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Taxing Snack Foods: What to Expect for Diet and Tax Revenues

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  • Kuchler, Fred
  • Tegene, Abebayehu
  • Harris, James Michael

Abstract

Health researchers and health policy advocates have proposed levying excise taxes on snack foods as a possible way to address the growing prevalence of obesity and overweight in the United States. Some proposals suggest higher prices alone will change consumers' diets. Others claim that change will be possible if earmarked taxes are used to fund an information program. This research examines the potential impact of excise taxes on snack foods, using baseline data from a household survey of food purchases. To illustrate likely impacts, we examine how much salty snack purchases might be reduced under varying excise tax rates and possible consumer price responses. We find that relatively low tax rates of 1 cent per pound and 1 percent of value would not appreciably alter consumption - and, thus, would have little effect on diet quality or health outcomes - but would generate $40-$100 million in tax revenues.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuchler, Fred & Tegene, Abebayehu & Harris, James Michael, 2004. "Taxing Snack Foods: What to Expect for Diet and Tax Revenues," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33607, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersab:33607
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/33607
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Crosson, P. & Anderson, J.R., 1992. "Resources and Global Food Prospects; Supply and demand for Cereals to 2030," Papers 184, World Bank - Technical Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2008. "Farm subsidies and obesity in the United States: National evidence and international comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 470-479, December.
    2. Cash, Sean B. & Lacanilao, Ryan D. & Adamowicz, Wiktor L. & Raine, Kim, 2008. "An Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Fat Taxes: Prices Effects, Food Stigma, and Information Effects on Economics Instruments to Improve Dietary Health," Consumer and Market Demand Network Papers 45499, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
    3. Julian M. Alston & Daniel A. Sumner & Stephen A. Vosti, 2006. "Are Agricultural Policies Making Us Fat? Likely Links between Agricultural Policies and Human Nutrition and Obesity, and Their Policy Implications," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 313-322.
    4. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2005. "The Effects of Agricultural Research and Farm Subsidy Policies on Human Nutrition and Obesity," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19196, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    5. Miao, Zhen, 2012. "Three essays on tax policies addressing the obesity epidemic and associated calorie intake," ISU General Staff Papers 201201010800003415, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Zhen Miao & John C. Beghin & Helen H. Jensen, 2012. "Taxing Sweets: Sweetener Input Tax Or Final Consumption Tax?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(3), pages 344-361, July.
    7. Zhen Miao & John C. Beghin & Helen H. Jensen, 2013. "Accounting For Product Substitution In The Analysis Of Food Taxes Targeting Obesity," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(11), pages 1318-1343, November.
    8. Shu Ng & Edward Norton & David Guilkey & Barry Popkin, 2012. "Estimation of a dynamic model of weight," Empirical Economics, Springer, pages 413-443.
    9. Cash, Sean B. & Lacanilao, Ryan D., 2007. "Taxing Food to Improve Health: Economic Evidence and Arguments," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 36(2), October.
    10. Amarasinghe, Anura & D'Souza, Gerard E. & Brown, Cheryl & Borisova, Tatiana, 2006. "The Impact of Socioeconomic and Spatial Differences on Obesity in West Virginia," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21159, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    11. Abdulfatah Sheikhbihi Adam & Sinne Smed, 2012. "The effects of different types of taxes on soft-drink consumption," IFRO Working Paper 2012/9, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, revised Nov 2012.
    12. Hahn, William F. & Davis, Christopher G., 2014. "Costs of Taxing Sodium: A Lunch Meat Application," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 17(A).

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