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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

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. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. Robert Goldfarb & Thomas C. Leonard & Steven Suranovic, 2006. "Modeling Alternative Motives for Dieting," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 115-131, Winter.
  3. Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1814, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  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. 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.
  8. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Rajeev Goel, 2006. "Obesity: An economic and financial perspective," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 317-324, September.
  11. 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.
  12. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf, 2005. "The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. 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).
  15. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Levy, Amnon, 2002. "Rational eating: can it lead to overweightness or underweightness?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 887-899, September.
  17. 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.
  18. 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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Citations

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As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
  1. > Agricultural Economics > Food Policy
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Cited by:
  1. Chavas, Jean-Paul, 2013. "On the microeconomics of food and malnutrition under endogenous discounting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 80-96.
  2. 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.
  3. D. Dragone & F. Manaresi & L. Savorelli, 2013. "Obesity and smoking: can we catch two birds with one tax?," Working Papers wp873, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  4. Gilad Sorek, 2013. "Efficient Self-Protection and Progress in Curing-Technology," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2013-07, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
  5. 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.

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