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Farm Policies and Added Sugars in US Diets

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Abstract

Major changes in the use of US sweeteners have occurred since 1970, in both the amount and composition. Increased consumption of caloric sweeteners, especially in beverages, has been linked to excess energy intake and lower-quality diets. We examine how US farm policies (specifically agricultural research and development [R&D] expenditures and commodity programs) have affected the consumption and composition of sweeteners in the US diet. R&D expenditures have lowered the unit cost of most commodities and increased their use in food production, ceteris paribus, although corn has benefited more than sugar crops in the technical progress. Commodity programs have raised the price of sugar and decreased the price of corn; high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) became an inexpensive substitute for sugar in food beginning in 1970. However, the effect of this change in the price of ingredients has become less important over time. Today the farm value share in sweetened food is very small (below 5%), and HFCS has become a specialized input in many food items. Countries with different or no commodity programs experience similar increases in consumption of added sugar. We conclude that the current link between the US consumption of caloric sweeteners and farm policy is tenuous, although historically the link was stronger.

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Paper provided by Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University in its series Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications with number 08-wp462.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:08-wp462

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Keywords: added sugar; agricultural policy; caloric; corn; diet; farm policies; HFCS; subsidy; sugar; sweetener.;

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References

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  1. Reed, Albert J. & Elitzak, Howard & Wohlgenant, Michael K., 2002. "Retail-Farm Price Margins And Consumer Product Diversity," Technical Bulletins 33573, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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Cited by:
  1. Hawkes, Corinna & Friel, Sharon & Lobstein, Tim & Lang, Tim, 2012. "Linking agricultural policies with obesity and noncommunicable diseases: A new perspective for a globalising world," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 343-353.
  2. Peterson, Cora, 2011. "A rotten deal for schools? An assessment of states' success with the National School Lunch Program's in-kind food benefit," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 588-596, October.
  3. Miao, Zhen & Beghin, John C. & Jensen, Helen H., 2010. "Taxing Sweets: Sweetener Input Tax or Final Consumption Tax?," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61511, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  4. Alston, Julian M. & Mullally, Conner C. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Townsend, Marilyn & Vosti, Stephen A., 2009. "Likely effects on obesity from proposed changes to the US food stamp program," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 176-184, April.
  5. Golan, Elise & Unnevehr, Laurian, 2008. "Food product composition, consumer health, and public policy: Introduction and overview of special section," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 465-469, December.
  6. Rickard, Bradley J. & Okrent, Abigail M. & Alston, Julian M., 2011. "How have agricultural policies influenced caloric consumption in the United States?," Working Papers 126543, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  7. Abigail M. Okrent & Julian M. Alston, 2012. "The Effects of Farm Commodity and Retail Food Policies on Obesity and Economic Welfare in the United States," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(3), pages 611-646.
  8. Getu Hailu & John Cranfield & Rawlin Thangaraj, 2010. "Do U.S. food processors respond to sweetener-related health information?," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 348-368.
  9. Guy E.J. Faulkner & Paul Grootendorst & Van Hai Nguyen & Tatiana Andreyeva & Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos & Chris Auld & Sean B. Cash & John Cawley & Peter Donnelly & Adam Drewnowski & Laurette Dubé & R, 2011. "Economic Instruments for Obesity Prevention: Results of a Scoping Review and Modified Delphi Survey," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 31-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.

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