This paper analyses the quantitative effects of using economic instruments in health policy on the basis of price elasticities calculated from estimated demand systems. The nutritional effects of various taxation schemes are compared for households in different age groups and social classes. Focusing on the consumption of saturated fats, fibre and sugar; it is generally found that the impact of price instruments is stronger for lower social classes than in other groups of the population. With regard to age groups, it is mostly the youngest that decrease their demand for saturated fat in response to price changes, while it is mostly the middle-aged who exhibit price responsiveness in their demand for sugar. These groups are however not considered as key target groups for dietary regulation; thus tax instruments may be effective in improving diets on average, but the design of the instruments and the targeting of vulnerable groups with special needs should be done with care. It should be noted that a tax on a single nutrient or food may have undesired effects on the demand for other food components, though this may be avoided by introducing taxes/subsidies on several food products simultaneously.
Food Policy, 2007, Vol 32, Issue 5-6, p. 624-639
LIFE; Nutrition; Food taxes; AIDS model; Socio-demographic