Navigation Links
Taxing unhealthy foods may encourage healthier eating habits

Recently, the Obama administration called for a total ban on candy and soda in the nation's schools. States are beginning to impose "sin taxes" on fat and sugar to dissuade people from eating junk food. Pricing strategies may well be a key to changing behavior, but others favor subsidies over punitive taxes, as a way to encourage people to eat fruits and vegetables and whole grains. The thought is that if you make it cheaper, people will eat more of it, more expensive and people will eat less.

Decades of behavioral economics research argues that consumers are not always so rational and the two strategies have never been tested head to head, to see which one most effectively alters calorie consumption. So, psychological scientist Leonard Epstein at University of Buffalo, decided to explore the persuasiveness of sin taxes and subsides in the laboratory.

Epstein and colleagues simulated a grocery store, "stocked" with images of everything from bananas and whole wheat bread to Dr. Pepper and nachos. A group of volunteers all mothers were given laboratory "money" to shop for a week's groceries for the family. Each food item was priced the same as groceries at a real grocery nearby, and each food came with basic nutritional information.

The mother-volunteers went shopping several times in the simulated grocery. First they shopped with the regular prices, but afterward the researchers imposed either taxes or subsidies on the foods. That is, they either raised the prices of unhealthy foods by 12.5%, and then by 25%; or they discounted the price of healthy foods comparably. Then they watched what the mothers purchased.

To define healthy and unhealthy foods, the scientists used a calorie-for-nutrition value, or CFN, which is the number of calories one must eat to get the same nutritional payoff. For example, nonfat cottage cheese has a very low CFN, because it is high on nutrition but not on calories; chocolate chip cookies have a much higher CFN. The researchers also measured the energy density- essentially calories- in every food.

The results, just published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that taxes were more effective in reducing calories purchased over subsides. Specifically, taxing unhealthy foods reduced overall calories purchased, while cutting the proportion of fat and carbohydrates and upping the proportion of protein in a typical week's groceries. By contrast, subsidizing the prices of healthy food actually increased overall calories purchased without changing the nutritional value at all. It appears that mothers took the money they saved on subsidized fruits and vegetables and treated the family to less healthy alternatives, such as chips and soda pop. Taxes had basically the opposite effect, shifting spending from less healthy to healthier choices. On the basis of this laboratory research, the scientists conclude that subsidizing broccoli and yogurt- as appealing as that idea might be to some- may be unlikely to bring about the massive weight loss the nation now requires.


Contact: Catherine Allen-West
Association for Psychological Science

Related medicine news :

1. Harvard study reveals taxing job-based health benefits would hit working families hardest
2. New Ohio Ad Campaign Calls for Taxing All Tobacco Products at Same Rate
3. Makes Nanny Taxes Less Taxing
4. A taxing issue: How human T-lymphotropic virus
5. Most Americans Think Its Others Who Are Unhealthy
6. Obese Middle-Aged Women Face Unhealthy Future
7. Eating in America Still Unhealthy: CDC
8. Researchers find medical inpatients with unhealthy alcohol use may benefit from brief intervention
9. Best intentions: The presence of healthy food can lead to unhealthy choices
10. Parkinsons Drugs Can Trigger Unhealthy Behaviors
11. Remuda Ranch Reports Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Can Take Spiritual Values and Practices to Unhealthy Levels
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... advanced da Vinci surgical robot is being more and more widely heralded as a ... robotic assisted da Vinci method has over traditional laparoscopic surgery is that it can ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... IL (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... The ... announce a recent successful appellate decision obtained by Attorneys Francisco J. Botto and Alex ... Adcock v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, 2015 IL App (2d) 130884WC. , According to ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Brillianteen, McGaw YMCA’s student-produced musical show, ... 65th Anniversary Brillianteen Revue, scheduled for March 4-6, 2016. Auditions for this final ... has been a treasured tradition for numerous families in the Evanston community. Over ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Spring, Md (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) announces the nation’s Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible ... history of this disease. The Periwinkle Pioneers, nominated by the public, will receive ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Bcureful—a non-profit organization devoted to advancing ... public awareness of the disorder while helping to bring expert medical care and ... bolster progress at the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Center at Ann & Robert H. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Frankreich, November 25, 2015 ... dass sie eine Lizenz für das Patent über eine ... UCBL und ENS-Lyon innehaben, an Enyo Pharma vergeben haben. ... AAP8 ins Leben gerufenen und von Edelris gemeinsam mit ... als ein Behandlungsziel für HBV identifiziert, und es wurden ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... The hope of bearing a ... IVF cycles. After failure of over 15 IVF cycles, ... all hopes that she would be able to conceive ever. But finally optimism prevailed as ... failure of over 15 IVF cycles. ... take one last attempt with Gaudium IVF Center in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Thanks to a donor with a personal ... Center,s Sister Diane Grassilli Center for Women,s Health now ... San Francisco . Fred ... with a gift of $617,320 that allowed the Center ... Tomosynthesis and Whole Breast Ultrasound. Tomosynthesis, three-dimensional (3-D) mammography ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: