This paper analyzes the role of prices in determining food purchases and nutrition using a detailed transaction-level observation for a large, nationally-representative sample of U.S. consumers over the years 2002-2007. Using structural demand estimates, researchers simulated the effect of a 20 percent product tax on soda, other sugar-sweetened beverages, packaged meals, and snacks, and 20 percent nutrient taxes on fat, salt, and sugar. They found that overall nutrient-specific taxes had much larger effects on nutrition than the product-specific taxes. Nutrient-specific taxes did not cost more in terms of consumer utility. While a 20 percent soda tax reduced sugar purchases by 10.35 percent, it only reduced overall caloric intake by 4.84 percent. Taxing packaged meals slightly increased overall caloric intake, and taxing snacks/candy had modest impacts on food purchased and nutrition. In contrast, taxing nutrients had large impacts on nutrition without producing larger welfare losses than product-specific taxes. Among the three nutrient-specific taxes examined, sugar taxes were the most effective. A 20 percent nutrient tax on sugar reduced sugar consumption by 16.41 percent, while also reducing caloric intake by 18.54 percent and salt consumption by 9.63 percent. These findings suggest that nutrient-specific taxes could have an effect in inducing healthier purchasing behavior among consumers.
The Effect of Prices on Nutrition: Comparing the Impact of Product‑ and Nutrient‑Specific Taxes
This paper examines how the obesity status of different children within the same family is related to a parent or sibling’s obesity. Analyzing results of a 2011 national survey of adults in 10,244 U.S. households, researchers found that the likelihood of childhood obesity varied with the number of children in … More
Examining the Effects of In-Store Marketing on the Purchase of Excess, Non-Nutrient Calories and on Childhood Obesity
The impact of family food purchasing on child obesity is understudied, and little is known about the roles that consumer shopping behavior and local prices for goods with different nutritional content play in determining obesity prevalence. This project will use unique, nationally-representative scanned UPC data collected by Nielsen over a … More
Studying the impact of combining fiscal incentives and disincentives to improve healthy food purchases by low-income households with children
Using economic modeling, this study seeks to advance nutritional equity by identifying ways to lower economic barriers to healthy eating among low-income households with children. This study will identify mechanisms for directing unhealthy food and beverage tax revenues towards healthy incentives, particularly through existing federally-funded, but local and state-run programs … More