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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid