Taxes the new weapon against fat

When the cost of junk food
increases, people consume less of it, a new study has found.

U.S. researchers monitored the
dietary habits and health of 5,115 young adults, aged 18 to 30, beginning in 1985
to 1986 and continuing through 2005 to 2006. During those 20 years, a 10
percent increase in price was associated with a 7 per cent decrease in the
amount of calories consumed from soda and a 12 per cent decrease in the amount
of calories consumed from pizza.

In addition, a lower overall daily
calorie intake, lower body weight and an improved insulin resistance score was
noted when the cost of soda or pizza was $1 more, and when the cost of both
soda and pizza was an extra dollar each, even greater improvements in these
measures of health were noted in participants.

The researchers calculated that an
18 per cent tax on unhealthy foods would reduce consumption by about 56
calories per person per day, which would lead to a weight loss of about five
pounds per person per year, lowering the risk of obesity-related diseases.

“In conclusion, our findings
suggest that national, state or local policies to alter the price of less
healthful foods and beverages may be one possible mechanism for steering U.S.
adults toward a more healthful diet,” Kiyah J. Duffey, of the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a news release.

“While such
policies will not solve the obesity epidemic in its entirety and may face
considerable opposition from food manufacturers and sellers, they could prove
an important strategy to address overconsumption, help reduce energy intake and
potentially aid in weight loss and reduced rates of diabetes among U.S.
adults,” they concluded