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Junk-food, home cooking, physical activity and obesity: The effect of the fat tax and the thin subsidy

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  • Yaniv, Gideon
  • Rosin, Odelia
  • Tobol, Yossef
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    Abstract

    In an effort to reduce the growing prevalence of obesity, a tax on junk-foods, known as 'fat tax', has been proposed, the revenue from which could be used to finance a 'thin subsidy' for healthy foods or exercising equipment. The present paper addresses the fat tax and thin subsidy within a food-intake rational-choice model. Assuming that healthy meals are cooked at home with purchased ingredients and time input, the paper examines the effects on obesity of a tax on junk-food meals and a subsidy to cooking ingredients, distinguishing between a weight-conscious and a non-weight conscious individual, and between a weight-conscious individual who is physically active and physically inactive. The results show that for a non-weight conscious individual a fat tax will unambiguously reduce obesity, whereas a thin subsidy may increase obesity. However, for a weight-conscious individual, particularly one who is physically active, even a fat tax may increase obesity, as it may reduce not just the consumption of junk-food, but also the time devoted to physical activity. The paper explores conditions under which obesity will rise, fall, or remain intact following the introduction of a fat tax or a thin subsidy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

    Volume (Year): 93 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
    Pages: 823-830

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:5-6:p:823-830

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

    Related research

    Keywords: Junk-food Home cooking Physical activity Obesity Fat tax Thin subsidy;

    References

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    1. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
    2. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 7423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," CSEF Working Papers 143, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Levy, Amnon, 2002. "Rational eating: can it lead to overweightness or underweightness?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 887-899, September.
    5. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2006. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 133-148, Winter.
    6. Levy, Amnon, 2003. "A Theory of LTR Junk-food Consumption," Economics Working Papers wp03-06, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
    7. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf, 2005. "The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Cutler, David & Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    9. Tomas Philipson & Richard Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 14010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
    11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    12. Yaniv, Gideon, 2002. "Non-adherence to a low-fat diet: an economic perspective," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 93-104, May.
    13. Cash, Sean B. & Sunding, David L. & Zilberman, David, 2004. "Fat Taxes And Thin Subsidies: Prices, Diet, And Health Outcomes," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19961, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    14. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Studying Optimal Paternalism, Illustrated by a Model of Sin Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 186-191, May.
    15. Robert S. Goldfarb & Thomas C. Leonard & Steven M. Suranovic, 2005. "Modeling Alternative Motives for Dieting," HEW 0511001, EconWPA.
    16. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
    17. Odelia Rosin, 2008. "The Economic Causes Of Obesity: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 617-647, 09.
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    1. > Agricultural Economics > Food Policy
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    Cited by:
    1. Wang, Yang & Yang, Muzhe, 2013. "Crisis-induced depression, physical activity and dietary intake among young adults: Evidence from the 9/11 terrorist attacks," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 206-220.
    2. Gilad Sorek, 2013. "Efficient Self-Protection and Progress in Curing-Technology," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2013-07, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    3. Dragone, Davide & Savorelli, Luca, 2012. "Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 243-256.
    4. Chavas, Jean-Paul, 2013. "On the microeconomics of food and malnutrition under endogenous discounting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 80-96.

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