News / Health

Taxing Junk Food May Help Reduce Obesity, Improve Health

People tend to consume less pizza and sugary soft drinks when they cost more

A new study finds increasing the cost of junk food leads people to consume less of it.
A new study finds increasing the cost of junk food leads people to consume less of it.

Multimedia

Audio
Philip Graitcer

Americans love fast food. It's tasty and it's cheap. It's also heavy on fats and sugar. But nutritional epidemiologist Penny Gordon-Larsen found that when the price of fast food goes up, no matter how tasty it is, consumption goes down.

"What we found was that an 18 percent increase in soda price translated to a 56-calorie reduction per day, which translated further to less weight gain over a year," says Gordon-Larsen.

That, she says, could have a positive impact on public health.

Financial approach to a healthier population

For the past 20 years, Gordon-Larsen and her colleagues in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina have followed more than 5,000 adults in a national study of coronary artery disease risk. They tracked participants' eating habits on a regular basis, and compared them with food costs.

Click to Listen:

Download/Play Audio File

 


They found an inverse relationship between the cost and consumption of foods like sugary sodas and pizza.

The study's finding seems to confirm the value of a public health strategy like the one already in place in Philadelphia. The city has imposed a 2-cent tax on each ounce of soda sold - about 32 cents for a half-liter bottle.

The city of Philadelphia has imposed a 2-cent tax on each ounce of soda sold. That adds up to about 32 cents for a half-liter bottle.
The city of Philadelphia has imposed a 2-cent tax on each ounce of soda sold. That adds up to about 32 cents for a half-liter bottle.

Gordon-Larsen says that if a similar soda tax were applied throughout the country, there could be a real impact on health. "At about that level of an increase, we would see that we would cut calories by about 124 calories per day and that you would have a large reduction in weight and risk of diabetes."

She notes that increased taxes on cigarettes have been especially effective in lowering smoking rates among teenagers. "In the adolescent age group, we would expect that the price manipulations would have a larger effect on caloric intake and also on weight."

Gordon-Larsen says her findings, coupled with the demonstrated effectiveness of cigarette taxes, suggest that increasing the price of so-called junk foods like soda and pizza may help steer Americans to a healthier diet. And that, in turn, could lead to lower rates of diabetes and obesity.

 

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid