This paper addresses the potential for using economic regulation, e.g. taxes or subsidies, as instruments to combat the increasing problems of inappropriate diets, leading to health problems such as obesity, diabetes 2, cardiovascular diseases etc. in most countries. Such policy measures may be considered as alternatives or supplements to other regulation instruments, including information campaigns, bans or enhancement of technological solutions to the problems of obesity or related diseases. 7 different food tax and subsidy instruments or combinations of instruments are analysed quantitatively. The analyses demonstrate that the average cost-effectiveness with regard to changing the intake of selected nutritional variables can be improved by 10–30 per cent if taxes/subsidies are targeted against these nutrients, compared with targeting selected food categories. Finally, the paper raises a range of issues, which need to be investigated further, before firm conclusions about the suitability of economic instruments in nutrition policy can be drawn.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2007, Vol 4, Issue 10