First They Came for My Soda, Now They are Coming for My Pizza!

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no pizza image

Reuters, citing new research published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, reports:

U.S. researchers estimate that an 18 percent tax on pizza and soda can push down U.S. adults' calorie intake enough to lower their average weight by 5 pounds (2 kg) per year…

"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. adults," wrote the team led by Kiyah Duffey of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…

Duffey's team analyzed the diets and health of 5,115 young adults aged age 18 to 30 from 1985 to 2006.

  They compared data on food prices during the same time. Over a 20-year period, a 10 percent increase in cost was linked with a 7 percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed from soda and a 12 percent decrease in calories consumed from pizza.

The team estimates that an 18 percent tax on these foods could cut daily intake by 56 calories per person, resulting in a weight loss of 5 pounds (2 kg) per person per year.

"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," Duffey and colleagues wrote.

In a commentary, Drs. Mitchell Katz and Rajiv Bhatia of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said taxes are an appropriate way to correct a market that favors unhealthy food choices over healthier options.

They argued that the U.S. government should carefully consider food subsidies that contribute to the problem.

"Sadly, we are currently subsidizing the wrong things including the product of corn, which makes the corn syrup in sweetened beverages so inexpensive," they wrote.

Instead, they argued that agricultural subsidies should be used to make healthful foods such as locally grown vegetables, fruits and whole grains less expensive.

How about we get rid of both subsidies and taxes and let people eat what they want? That's how real markets work.

For more on "The War on Fat" take a look at my colleague Jacob Sullum's excellent article on the topic.

Via American Council on Science and Health.

Disclosure: I am quite fond of Hawaiian pizza.