do junk food taxes work?

by Diane Lofshult on Jun 17, 2010

Food for Thought

There has been a lot of talk recently about whether levying taxes on sodas and other unhealthy foods would help Americans make better food choices. The reasoning behind "junk food" taxation is that putting their money where their mouth is may entice people to eat a more healthful diet. However, with scant research to date to support the contention that taxation policies affect one's food choices, such logic is mostly anecdotal in nature.

Now, the findings of a new study in the March 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine lend scientific support to this notion. This 20-year longitudinal trial included more than 5,000 participants enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. The purpose of one aspect of the study was to examine the association of food prices with an individual's intake of items such as soda and pizza. The researchers found that even a 10% increase in the price of either soda or pizza was linked to a lower daily consumption of these foods. An increase in the price of both soda and pizza resulted in even greater reductions in intake of these unhealthy foods.

These findings led the researchers to conclude that "policies aimed at altering the price of soda or away-from-home pizza may be effective mechanisms to steer U.S. adults toward a more healthful diet and help reduce long-term weight gain or insulin levels over time."

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at lofshult@roadrunner.com.