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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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  • John C. Beghin & Helen H. Jensen, 2008. "Farm Policies and Added Sugars in US Diets," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 08-wp462, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:08-wp462
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Ho, Shuay-Tsyr & Rickard, Bradley J. & Liaukonyte, Jura, 2014. "Economic and Nutritional Implications from Changes in U.S. Agricultural Promotion Efforts," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 46(04), November.
    5. 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.
    6. Dave, Dhaval & Doytch, Nadia & Kelly, Inas Rashad, 2016. "Nutrient intake: A cross-national analysis of trends and economic correlates," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 158-167.
    7. Bradley J. Rickard & Abigail M. Okrent & Julian M. Alston, 2013. "How Have Agricultural Policies Influenced Caloric Consumption In The United States?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 316-339, March.
    8. 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.
    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 & Ro, 2011. "Economic Instruments for Obesity Prevention: Results of a Scoping Review and Modified Delphi Survey," Monash Economics Working Papers 31-11, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Glauber, Joseph W. & Effland, Anne, 2016. "United States agricultural policy: Its evolution and impact:," IFPRI discussion papers 1543, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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