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Globally, millions of deaths each year can be attributed to poor nutrition, and these numbers are rising. These deaths are preventable, and a strategy to encourage consumers to make healthier choices is through tax policies, such as subsidies or taxes. Examples include taxes on products known to be bad for health, such as tobacco and alcohol, with the aim of discouraging consumers from buying these products.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recruited a team of researchers from UConn at the University of Illinois Chicago to assess whether similar food policies affect health, in hopes of giving data to politicians around the world data on the results of these policies. Measures to deliver. . She recently published two papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one focusing on economic and health outcomes of food taxes and subsidies, and another focusing on the outcomes of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.

One challenge researchers have faced is that food taxes are politically challenging and difficult to implement, so there are few examples to extract data, says UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health Director of Economic Initiatives and lead author Tatiana Andreyeva. In addition, Andreyeva explains that these questions are relatively new, and although there is a wealth of data on buying behavior, the evidence about diet and health outcomes is less abundant. As a starting point, the researchers focused on data on subsidies and taxes together to get a broad view of how these policies can affect consumption behavior.

“When we say food taxes, we mean a tax on unhealthy foods,” says Andreyeva, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. “An example is in Mexico, which in 2014 implemented a tax on non-essential energy-dense foods as part of a national strategy to tackle obesity. In Denmark, a tax on saturated fats was abolished, so we do not have many food taxes or Policies as proof of the efficiency of food taxes, but we have a lot of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes to study ”.

For subsidies, the idea is that if prices are reduced and healthier foods become more affordable, people will buy more. Andreyeva says it is easier to find subsidies for fruits and vegetables, and some countries also have subsidies for healthier products and staple foods to support those on lower incomes.

“As an example, subsidies have been widely used in the US to support nutrition, especially for participants in food aid programs such as SNAP. An example is the Double Up Food Bucks program, where SNAP participants can buy vegetables at farmers markets, and for all Spending dollars on SNAP benefits gives the buyer $ 2 in products. That’s a very significant subsidy. “

For their recent studies, researchers conducted meta-analyzes in which they published peer-reviewed studies around the world to look at the effect of subsidies and taxes on purchasing, prices, consumption, diet, and data on other outcomes that be available.

“We have examined how fruit and vegetable purchases change in response to subsidies for fruits and vegetables and estimated how much consumer demand with lower prices will change through subsidies,” says Andreyeva.

The results show a significant improvement in consumer purchases and the demand for fruits and vegetables. In the case of taxes on SSBs, sales are also going down significantly. Both policy measures were as envisaged; however, consumers did not respond as drastically to fruit and vegetable price changes as researchers expected, Andreyeva says.

From the available data, Andreyeva says that they also do not see any significant change in terms of the effect of subsidies on consumption.

“This could be due to not having enough studies that look specifically at consumption.”

With millions of sales data points, purchases are easier to analyze, but Andreyeva says consumption – whether purchases are consumed and what the consumer’s health outcomes are – is much more difficult to measure because it requires more expensive and time-consuming data collection. and Follow-up; for example through surveys and interviews. Although more intensive, Andreyeva points out that these health-focused data are vital for understanding the health outcomes of this policy.

Successful examples of low sales taxes on snacks and sugary drinks in various areas in the US and Mexico show that these taxes are promising ways to stimulate healthier decisions. The argument that elements like SSBs are not essential makes them easier to tax, Andreyeva explains:

“There’s no food in these drinks. While eating, every food you look at has a diet, and it’s much harder to set up a tax. Even beverage taxes are easier to implement because they count an industry, if you. Snacks steer, you have a much wider range of companies affected, and you get more opposition from more industries.

The need for specific definitions of what is considered healthy or not is evidenced by the example from Denmark with the tax on saturated fat. Andreyeva explains that the measure was quickly abolished due to opposition from the impact of the tax on meat and milk prices.

Bigger taxes also get more pushback, while with smaller taxes, like the 6.35% sales tax on sweets and carbonated beverages that are in Connecticut, many people are unaware that they are paying them.

Measures such as taxes and subsidies are just one potential strategy that can be implemented to help consumers make better decisions. However, there are greater systemic barriers for those trying to make healthier food choices, says Andreyeva. Even if prices are low, do people have a grocery store nearby or transportation to one? Are there any farmers markets in the area? Do consumers have the knowledge, facilities or time to prepare healthy meals?

Although the data show an increase in sales of healthier foods, the increases may not be as strong due to these additional barriers.

“Much of the goal of this research is to see the impact on health care costs or whether taxes or subsidies help reduce diabetes or obesity,” says Andreyeva. “Are we reflecting that in health care costs? Unfortunately, we do not see that evidence yet because we do not have enough time since subsidies or taxes were implemented. One day we hope to see that when money is spent on subsidies, we can see savings elsewhere. Hopefully. we can show politicians how much impact it has on tax increases or subsidies on health.

Simplified solutions to obesity that cause an industry or food product are bad public policies. The reality is that “junk food” taxes or sugar content taxes are ineffective, blunt instruments that do not recognize the complex and manifold causes of obesity.

What are the pros and cons of junk food?

Fast Food ProsFast Food Cons
Fast food is often quite cheapToo much of it can lead to serious health problems
High hygiene standardsMay lead to obesity
Tastes always pretty similarFast food can be addictive
Revelation of caloriesDigestive problems

What are the positives of Junk Food? 5 Key Benefits of Junk Food This may interest you : Department of Health News.

  • It’s delicious. First, it tastes good. …
  • It’s quick and easy. Junk food is also incredibly convenient. …
  • It is available 24/7. Even junk food is always available. …
  • It’s cheap. Also, do not forget how cheap it is. …
  • It is a children‘s favorite. And kids love it too.

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On this World Food Day, the global food system and food security…

Would a fat tax reduce obesity?

A fat tax is intended to reduce the consumption of foods associated with obesity. A related idea is the taxation of foods that are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Read also : Monthly Healthy Theme: Men’s Health Month | Gordon Life | Many studies suggest that when the price of a meal goes down, people become fatter.

Is a fat tax effective? Unfortunately, up to now, at the population level, these policies have not been effective on a scale: obesity and obesity rates as well as dietary chronic disease rates continue to climb in countries independent of income level.

What is the purpose of a fat tax?

A fat tax aims to discourage unhealthy diets and offset the economic costs of obesity. A fat tax is intended to reduce the consumption of foods associated with obesity. See the article : Alliance’s food desert creates barriers to healthy eating. A related idea is the taxation of foods that are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Would taxes on unhealthy foods reduce obesity?

Sugar and food and drink contribute to obesity, diabetes and other conditions. By increasing the prices of sugar-containing products, taxes can lead people to consume less and thus improve nutrition and health. Health care costs would be lower, and people would live healthier and longer lives.

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Why are fruits and vegetables not subsidized?

The short answer is that fruit and vegetable producers did not want fruit and vegetables to be subsidized. A look back at the congressional records from the 1990 Farm Bill provides an interesting insight into how we arrived at where we are today.

What is the most subsidized harvest? According to this measure, rice is the most heavily subsidized crop, receiving 5% of US subsidies but contributing only 0.7% of the value of US agricultural production. Cotton is next, with a 13 percent share of subsidies and a 2 percent share of value.

What are the 3 major food crops that are subsidized in the US?

In the three largest farm subsidy programs – insurance, ARC, and PLC – more than 70 percent of the distributions go to farmers from just three crops – corn, soybeans, and wheat. 1.

Are vegetables subsidized in the US?

American agribusiness receives about $ 38 billion a year in federal funding, with only 0.4% of that amount subsidizing the production of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the Great Depression, the U.S. government has paid farmers money to grow food.

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What is taxing junk food?

The taxation of unhealthy foods is expected to reduce their consumption through food their own and cross-price elasticity. Price elasticity reflects the size of prices on product demand and can be defined as the percentage of change in result (eg food consumption or weight) resulting from a 1% change in price.

Does US Junk Food Tax? The US Federal Government does not have a traffic tax, but it does manage dozens of manufacturers excise taxes. Researchers have found that US food tax bills and laws related to nutrition and junk food taxes in Hungary and Mexico overwhelmingly use an excise tax mechanism.

What country has a junk food tax?

Only Hungary and Mexico have junk food taxes so far. Since 2013, eight municipalities and cities in the United States have taken measures to control soda with the aim of combating the consumption of sugary drinks. In the United Kingdom, the government launched a sugar tax on 6 April, which also applies to sweet drinks.

Why unhealthy foods should not be taxed?

The reality is that “junk food” taxes or sugar content taxes are ineffective, blunt instruments that do not recognize the complex and manifold causes of obesity. It is time we put the idea of ​​such taxes in their proper place: the rubbish bin.

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