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Taxing Highly Processed Foods - Impacts on Obesity and Underweight in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ole Boysen, Kirsten Boysen-Urban, Harvey Bradford and Jean Balié ()

No 201812, Working Papers from Geary Institute, University College Dublin

Abstract: The consumption of highly processed food has been singled out as one of the factors responsible for the rapidly increasing prevalence of obesity and its associated non-communicable diseases and costs. While obesity prevalence is still comparatively low in lower-income sub-Saharan Africa(SSA), development prospects in this region render its markets especially interesting for these foods, whose consumption is already growing at higher rates than in developed countries. This might be reflected in the massive rise in obesity prevalence growth rates in SSA over the past decade, which has occurred while many of these countries are simultaneously struggling with high undernutrition prevalence. With a focus on SSA, this study econometrically investigates the effect of higher import tariffs on highly processed vis-à-vis less-processed foods with respect to their impacts on obesity and underweight prevalence, utilizing a newly constructed cross-country panel dataset. The effects of the tariff differences are found to be significant and substantial in cases differentiated by income level of the country as well as by gender. The results more generally show that policies affecting the consumer price differential between the two food groups are effective for influencing obesity and underweight prevalence and that these two issues cannot be treated separately.

Keywords: highly processed foods; obesity; underweight; food policies; taxes; Sub-Saharan Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 24 pages
Date: 2018-06-19
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-agr and nep-knm
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