Nova workboard

a blog from young economists at Nova SBE

Child obesity – a public issue

Child obesity is a big and recognized issue of the world anno 2017[1]. Obesity in a young age will have consequences for the children now and in the future. It can lead to serious health issues for instance diabetes etc. for the individuals and thereby have large costs to the society[2]. Childhood obesity is a problem that the world needs to take care of. Often times the parents are responsible for the unhealthy living of the children and the obesity of them. There fore one must approach the parents. A way to do this and help the problem is to use monetary incentives and for instance having a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Studies show that the current level of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in the US is doing real harm to the children, the families and the society[3].

Imposing a tax on the production of the sugar-sweetened beverages can prevent obesity, save lives, and reduce healthcare costs. The purpose of the tax will be to give the individuals incentives to stay away from the sugary beverages and thereby getting people to use healthier alternatives. A big problem about unhealthy, sugary beverages is that they can be cheap for the consumers, but a tax can make it more expensive for the consumers who will go to other alternatives. It will thereby serve as a powerful signal to reduce consumption through additional individual behavioural and policy changes. The study shows that imposing the tax on the beverages is a low-cost strategy that could also raise revenue. This revenue could be used in many ways for instance to learn people about health issues, healthy eating and physical activities. But for all of this to happen it is important that the tax is being created and imposed properly.

To set the right taxes the governments of the countries around the world, and especially in the countries that have high percentages of obese people, have a hard time to predict the consumer and producer behaviours after the introduction of a tax. Denmark introduced a tax on sugar in 2013, but it was quickly cancelled since it did not work after the intentions. A consequence of the sugar tax was that it also taxed goods that were not necessarily the reason. It is therefore important to create the tax in such a way, that it will increase the health of the individuals[4]. A way to avoid the problem like the one In Denmark is to for example tax the sugar-sweetened beverages and not sugar in general. Another question to ask is, if taxes are the way to get people to be healthier and give the healthy lifestyle to their kids. Knowledge about the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle is an important factor as well and it is also important to have cheep healthy alternatives to the unhealthy ones.

Catrine Gravesen

[1] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/2015/06/25/childhood-obesity-prevention-strategies-assessing-cost-effectiveness/

[2] http://choicesproject.org/publications/ssb-tax-summary/

[3] http://choicesproject.org/publications/ssb-tax-summary/

[4] http://borsen.dk/nyheder/ritzau/artikel/3/1549318/fakta_om_sukkerafgiften.html

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Author: studentnovasbe

Master student in Nova Sbe

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