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Taxes and subsidies could encourage healthier diet and lower healthcare costs
Date:9/2/2014

BOSTON (September 2, 2014 4 pm EDT): In a Viewpoint published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of Boston researchers call for the implementation of taxes and subsidies to improve dietary quality in the United States. The researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital write that policies taxing nearly all packaged foods and subsidizing healthier foods could both help people make meaningful dietary changes and substantially reduce health care costs.

"With climbing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses helping to drive health care expenses to an all-time high, we are at a crossroads," said first author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. "The strategies we rely on nowlabels on food packages and dietary guidelinesplace responsibility squarely on the shoulders of individual people to find, purchase, and eat healthy foods. Given the complexities of our modern food environment, that is an uphill battle. We must start looking at enacting policies that help people navigate our complex food environment and adopt a healthier way of eating."

Mozaffarian; senior author David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital; and co-author Kenneth S. Rogoff, Ph.D., Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and professor of economics at Harvard University say the goal of taxes and subsidies is to improve overall dietary patterns rather than reduce calorie intake. They suggest a 10-30% flat tax on nearly all packaged foods, as well as foods served at most chain restaurants and by large cafeteria vendors. This tax revenue would be used to offset the cost of subsidizing healthier foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, beans, and whole grains, inclu
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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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