Altering prices of 7 food groups could save 23K lives per year in US | Cardiovascular Business

The authors found that a 10 percent decrease in fruit prices would result in a 15.5 percent increased consumption rate among individuals who didn’t complete high school, a 14.2 percent increase among those who completed high school or some college, and a 13.1 percent increase among college graduates. On the other hand, a 10 percent increase in prices of SSBs would decrease estimated consumption by 7.3 percent, 6.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.

These trends continued throughout the data, though among individual dietary factors, the greatest estimated impact came from reducing the prices of vegetables, fruits and nuts. Those alterations would result in a combined 14,972 fewer CMD-attributable deaths per year, Penalvo and colleagues wrote.

By jointly shifting the prices of all seven food groups by 10 percent each, and assuming a low SES gradient, the authors found 23,174 deaths per year could be prevented in the U.S—3.4 percent of all CMD deaths in the nation. By altering each price by 30 percent, that number climbs to an estimated 63,268 prevented deaths a year, which corresponds to 9.2 percent of all CMD mortalities.

“Our findings suggest that the benefits of taxes for both health and disparities would be strongly complemented by accompanying strategies to reduce the price of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains,” the authors wrote. “Subsidies are an essential component of a balanced pricing strategy to effectively improve diets, as well as to minimize the regressive nature of taxation alone.”

These fiscal strategies have been successful in other countries, they noted, including the earliest example: a 2011 Danish tax on saturated fat. Though the tax was rescinded in 2013, estimates projected national saturated fat intake was cut by 4 percent. Sugar taxes exist in Hungary, Latvia and Finland, SSB taxes are making their way across the U.S. and Portuguese residents find higher price tags on high-salt products. South Africa and the U.K. are also debuting SSB taxes in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

“Strategies introducing modest price changes on key dietary factors could reduce cardiovascular disease and diabetes burdens and disparities in the U.S.,” Penalvo et al. wrote. “The findings of our study have broad implications for policy-makers targeting fiscal measures to reduce CMD burden.”

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Altering prices of 7 food groups could save 23K lives per year in US | Cardiovascular Business.