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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid