In this newsletter you will find summaries of three important articles that have considered health-related food taxes and subsidies written by Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Adam Briggs and Oliver Mytton. Their important work (partially summarised here) has added to the evidence surrounding food taxes and subsidies. The modelling studies described by Briggs and Ni Mhurchu are reminders that it is important to study the full effect of proposed tax and subsidy scenarios, including where possible both targeted foods and potential substitute foods, and vulnerable sub-populations. The review summarised by Mytton reminds us that whilst modelling studies can give in-depth results, it is important to gather evidence on real-life implemented tax and subsidy policies wherever possible in order to validate modelling results and provide policy makers with compelling evidence.

More and more governments, including the UK, Hungary, Finland, France, Mexico and Berkeley, California, are turning towards health-related food taxes (particularly sugary drink taxes). Opinion polling and referenda have shown that such taxes needn’t be unpopular. In straitened financial times, fiscal measures will be considered by governments for their revenue raising potential as well as their health outcomes.

But evaluating the effect of health-related food taxes and subsidies using randomised controlled trials is usually infeasible, and as such we rely upon results from modelling studies and natural experiments of real-life taxes and subsidies.

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