HEALTHY LIVING
12/12/2012 02:57 pm ET

Raising Junk Food Prices Could Spur People To Consume Less: Study

Raising the price of soda and junk food could spur people to consume less of these foods, according to a new study from New Zealand researchers.

The findings, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, show that hiking up the price of sodas by 10 percent is linked with a 1 to 24 percent decrease in the consumption of soda.

Similarly, hiking up the price of saturated fat-containing foods by 1 percent is linked with a 0.02 percent decrease in energy intake from these foods.

"Based on modelling studies, taxes on carbonated drinks and saturated fat and subsidies on fruits and vegetables are associated with beneficial dietary change, with the potential for improved health," the University of Auckland and University of Otago researchers wrote in the study.

Their findings are based on analysis and modeling of the data from 32 past studies evaluating pricing and food consumption. In addition to finding a link between upped prices and lowered junk-food consumption, researchers also found a link between lowered prices and increased healthy-food consumption.

Specifically, they found that if you were to lower the cost of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables by 10 percent, consumption of produce would go up between 2 and 8 percent.

However, they wrote, "it must be noted that the impact of any given food tax or subsidy is likely to differ by country depending on factors such as the type of tax system implemented, health status, co-existent marketing, cultural norms, expendable income, and the social role of food."

Earlier this year, a study in the journal Health Affairs actually quantified how many lives could be expected to be saved if a soda tax were to go into effect. HuffPost Food's Joe Satran reported:

The simulation predicted that the tax would avert 2,600 deaths, 9,500 heart attacks and 240,000 new cases of diabetes every year.

Satran reported that these saved lives would largely be a result of the fewer pounds and lower diabetes risk from the decrease in soda consumption.

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