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Exploring how calorie information and taxes on high-calorie foods influence lunch decisions

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Abstract

Background: The potential combined effects of public policy tools-such as calorie information and taxes on highly caloric foods-on purchasing behavior are rarely studied. Furthermore, these tools are rarely studied in the context of individual differences (eg, dietary restraint), which may play a key role in their effectiveness. Objective: The current study tests the combined effects of providing calorie information and increased taxes on the total number of calories purchased for lunch. Furthermore, these public policy tools were investigated in the context of high-and low-restrained eaters. Design: University students (n = 178) had to choose lunch from a menu 3 different times. The prices for the high-calorie foods on the menu increased each time (125% and 150% of base price). In addition, there were 3 between-subject factors: budget (high compared with low), calorie-information (calorie information compared with no calorie information), and dietary restraint. Results: Elasticity analyses show a tax u calorie information interaction. A price increase for the high-calorie foods reduced the percentage of calories chosen for lunch but only in the absence of calorie information. Conclusions: A tax of (3)25% on high-calorie foods may decrease the demand for calories and could be a good policy measure to decrease the prevalence of obesity. However, calorie information seems to interfere with the effect of a tax on high-calorie foods. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:689-94.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-694
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume93
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011