Unhealthy Foods Become Less Popular
With Increasing Costs
tend to eat less pizza and drink less soda as the price of these items
increases, and their body weight and overall calorie intake also appear
to decrease, according to a report in the Archives of Internal
Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
compensate for food environments where healthful foods (i.e., fresh
fruits and vegetables) tend to cost more, public health professionals
and politicians have suggested that foods high in calories, saturated
fat or added sugar be subject to added taxes and/or that healthier
foods be subsidized," the authors write as background information in
the article. "Such manipulation of food prices has been a mainstay of
global agricultural and food policy, used as a means to increase
availability of animal foods and basic commodities, but it has not been
readily used as a mechanism to promote public health and chronic
disease prevention efforts."
J. Duffey, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
and colleagues assessed the dietary habits of 5,115 young adults (age
18 to 30) beginning in 1985 to 1986 and continuing through 2005 to
2006. Food price data were compiled for the same timeframe.
Participants' height, weight and blood levels of glucose and insulin
were also collected and a measure of insulin sensitivity was
the 20-year period, a 10-percent increase in price was associated with
a 7-percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed from soda and a
12-percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed from pizza. A
one-dollar increase in the cost of soda or pizza was also associated
with a lower overall daily calorie intake, lower body weight and an
improved insulin resistance score, and a one-dollar increase in the
cost of both soda and pizza was associated with even greater changes in
researchers estimate that an 18-percent tax on these foods would result
in a decline of roughly 56 calories per person per day. These declines
would amount to weight loss of approximately 5 pounds per person per
year, with corresponding reductions in the risk of obesity-related
diseases, they note.
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," the authors write. "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.
information on JAMA/Archives Journals, visit http://pubs.ama-assn.org.