Review and special article| Volume 30, ISSUE 5, P430-437, May 2006

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Food Taxation and Pricing Strategies to “Thin Out” the Obesity Epidemic


      This article highlights characteristics of two related yet distinct economic approaches to addressing the current obesity epidemic in the United States: the general taxation of soft drinks, snack foods, and/or fast foods, and the application of pricing incentives/disincentives on foods sold in schools and worksites. The article specifically focuses on the: (1) rationale for, (2) potential barriers and limitations to, and (3) possible unintended consequences of implementing these policy interventions at the state level. Novel empirical evidence showing strong positive associations between the presence of state-level taxation on soft drinks or snack foods between 1991 and 1998 and relative changes in obesity prevalence over the same time period is further presented. The article concludes by summarizing the similarities and dissimilarities of the two approaches, and by emphasizing some of the gaps and priorities regarding these strategies that should be addressed in future research and policies to best effect obesity prevention.
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