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Brian Elbel, Glen B. Taksler, Tod Mijanovich, Courtney B. Abrams, L.B. Dixon
This experiment analyzes the effectiveness of different methods of decreasing consumption of unhealthy food and beverages. Researchers opened a store where they sold foods under five separate circumstances: under normal conditions, with a 30% tax on unhealthy snacks and beverages, a highlighted “less healthy” label on the unhealthy items, and finally a combination of the two. Customers were 11% more likely to opt for healthier food and beverages with the tax levied (whether a label also appeared had no influence), and 6% more likely to buy healthier items when the unhealthy alternatives included the “less healthy” label (but no additional tax).
This experiment suggests that a policy of labeling unhealthy items will reduce their consumption by 6%. However, levying additional taxes proved to be a more effective mechanism, reducing consumption by 11%.
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