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Eating Right

It's not a miracle, it's just a fact: Raising prices by taxing cigarettes worked, because it caused a lot of people to stop smoking. Could it do the same thing for eating unhealthy foods? (And if you're overweight, you're more likely to get the flu!

A new study that followed participants for 20 years shows both weight and risk for diabetes decreased for people in communities where fast food prices increased. Adults tend to eat less pizza and drink less soda as the cost of these items increases.

Over the 20-year period, a 10% increase in price was associated with a 7% decrease in the amount of calories consumed from soda and a 12% decrease in the amount of calories consumed from pizza. A one-dollar increase in the cost of soda or pizza was also associated with a lower overall daily calorie intake, lower body weight and an improved insulin resistance score, and a one-dollar increase in the cost of both soda and pizza was associated with even greater changes in these measures.

Researcher Kiyah J. Duffey says, "To compensate for food environments where healthful foods (i.e., fresh fruits and vegetables) tend to cost more, public health professionals and politicians have suggested that foods high in calories, saturated fat or added sugar be subject to added taxes and/or that healthier foods be subsidized. Such manipulation of food prices has been a mainstay of global agricultural and food policy, used as a means to increase availability of animal foods and basic commodities, but it has not been readily used as a mechanism to promote public health and chronic disease prevention efforts."

The researchers think that an 18% tax on these foods would result in a decline of roughly 56 calories per person per day. These declines would amount to weight loss of approximately 5 pounds per person per year, with corresponding reductions in the risk of obesity-related diseases.

Obesity may limit the body

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