UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Poor diet and obesity have been linked to increased risks for a number of chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The proposed research will investigate the relationship between food (candy, baked goods, and chips), beverage (soda) and restaurant state sales taxes and food consumption patterns, diet quality, body mass index (BMI) and obesity prevalence among children, adolescents, and adults. The proposed project will build substantially on the previous literature which has linked food prices but not taxes to individual-level population data. These food and beverage sales taxes are on items that are usually high in either sugar and/or fat and given that most of these taxes already exist in a number of states (with substantial variation across states) they are likely to be starting points for potential policy changes. Thus, this research would provide policy makers with evidence on the extent to which implementing or increasing any of these state-level taxes is likely to affect food consumption behavior, diet quality and related BMI and obesity. All analyses will control for the local area availability of food stores and restaurants. We also propose specific analyses of low-income sub-samples and, in particular, we will examine low-income food stamp recipients and non-recipients separately because when purchased by food stamp recipients, such items are exempt from the tax. The specific aims of this project are threefold: 1) Examine the relationship between soda, candy, baked goods, chips and restaurant sales taxes and dietary patterns (intake of taxed food/beverage items and consumption of FAFH) and diet quality (total caloric intake, % fat and/or % sugar in diet, and overall healthy eating index); 2) Examine the relationship between soda, candy, baked goods, chips and restaurant sales taxes and BMI and obesity prevalence; and, 3) Examine the proposed relationships separately for low-income populations and assess the differences in tax sensitivity between low-income food stamp and non-food stamp recipients. To accomplish these aims, the proposed research will conduct secondary data analyses, using a unique combination of four types of data: 1) state-level food, beverage and restaurant sales tax rates; 2) local area outlet density measures of food stores and restaurants; 3) local area socioeconomic status drawn from the Census; and, 4) nationally representative population data on dietary intake and measured BMI for children, adolescents and adults from four data sets including three longitudinal surveys. The data sets include: 1) the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); 2) the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Kindergarten cohort) (ECLS-K); 3) the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID); and, 4) the National longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). To our knowledge, the proposed project represents the most comprehensive exploration to date of the contextual relationship between specific food, beverage and restaurant taxes and individuals’ dietary patterns, diet quality and BMI. Given the serious public health risk posed by poor diet and obesity prevalence, this research can provide important information for policymakers and public health advocates about the potential effectiveness of implementing or increasing existing tax rates on soda, candy, baked goods, chips and restaurants.