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Farm Policies and Added Sugars in US Diets

  • Beghin, John C.
  • Jensen, Helen H.

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. 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 Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 12872.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 2008
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Publication status: Published in Food Policy, December 2008, vol. 33 no. 6, pp. 480-488
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12872
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  6. Miller, J. Corey & Coble, Keith H., 2007. "Cheap food policy: Fact or rhetoric?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 98-111, February.
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  14. Huffman, Wallace E. & Huffman, Sonya K. & Rickertsen, Kyrre & Tegene, Abebayehu, 2010. "Over-Nutrition and Changing Health Status in High Income Countries," Staff General Research Papers 31492, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  15. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
  16. Beghin, John C. & El Osta, Barbara & Cherlow, Jay R. & Mohanty, Samarendu, 2002. "The Cost of the U.S. Sugar Program Revisited," 2002 Conference (46th), February 13-15, 2002, Canberra 125058, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
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  20. Abler, David & Beghin, John C. & Blandford, David & Elobeid, Amani, 2008. "Changing the U.S. Sugar Program into a Standard Crop Program: Consequences Under NAFTA and Doha," Staff General Research Papers 12764, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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