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Making fruit and vegetables cheaper by subsiding them could save more than 150,000 American lives by 2030, according to a new study.
The research, published in PLOS Medicine medical journal, also compared the potential impact of subsidising fruit and veg against putting a levy on fizzy drinks.
The report’s authors said: “Large socio-economic disparities exist in US dietary habits and cardiovascular disease mortality. While economic incentives have demonstrated success in improving dietary choices, the quantitative impact of different dietary policies on cardiovascular disease mortality disparities is not well established.
Veggies v fizzy drinks
“We aimed to quantify and compare the potential effects on total cardiovascular disease mortality mortality and disparities of specific dietary policies to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and reduce sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption in the US.”
In order to calculate the impact of subsidizing these healthy foods – compared to putting a levy on fizzy drinks – Scientists used the US IMPACT Food Policy Model.
Their findings suggest that subsidies are more effective than taxes, with stats showing that a subsidy on produce could increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 14 per cent, but a 10 per cent price increase on soda would only reduce consumption by seven percent.
They also discovered that a 10 per cent produce subsidy was a staggering five times more effective at preventing or postponing death by 2030 than the drinks levy.
The report’s authors concluded that using both these strategies would be the most effective way to reduce the mortality rate from heart disease, saying: “Fiscal strategies targeting diet might substantially help to reduce the unequal cardiovascular disease mortality burden in the US.
“[Both] dietary policies could be effective, whilst a combination of national and targeted policies might be even more powerful in reducing both cardiovascular disease mortality and socio-economic disparities.”