Given the prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States and globally, any measure that encourages children’s early consumption of healthier foods and drinks can only be beneficial. A new study suggests that financial incentives to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages can be such a measure.
Researchers at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health determined that taxing high-calorie beverages may help persuade families of preschool children in the U.S. to buy fewer such beverages and perhaps to buy fewer high-calorie foods, as well. The study, “Targeted Beverage Taxes Influence Food and Beverage Purchases Among Households with Preschool Children,” used household food and beverage purchase data from the 2009 – 2012 Nielsen Homescan Panel, and was published online June 10 in the Journal of Nutrition.
[Photo: “Preschool children are an ideal population for dietary interventions because eating behaviors and food preferences are formed during the first five years of life,” said Dr. Chris Ford, UNC Gillings School alumnus and lead author of the study]
Dr. Christopher N. Ford, Gillings School department of nutrition alumnus, now postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, was the study’s lead author. Dr. Shu Wen Ng, research assistant professor, and Dr. Barry M. Popkin, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor, both from the Gillings School’s Department of Nutrition, were co-authors.