NC State Extension Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “Changing Eating Behavior”


Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program looks at changing eating behavior. Mike, there is a worry that – as a society – our eating behavior is leading to increased obesity, which in turn is creating more health care issues and medical costs.   There have been some attempts to alter what we eat through taxes and subsidies.   Do these kinds of interventions work?

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. based on the economic idea that one way to reduce negative behavior is to

increase its cost, and one way to increase positive behavior is to lower its


  1. so some areas have tried taxing fatty foods and subsiding healthy foods
  2. a new study looked at impacts of such programs
  3. found taxes on fatty foods caused less consumption of them, but mainly

with higher income households

  1. subsidies did result in more purchases of healthy foods, but again, more

among high income households

  1. so the tax/subsidy program exacerbated differences we already see, of

those with more financial resources, in general, eating more healthy foods

than those with more limited financial resources

  1. I’m MW


Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for N C State Extension