Food prices, taxes, and obesity in Canada and its implications for food taxation

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Technická Univerzita v Liberci
Technical university of Liberec, Czech Republic
An important health financing issue facing Canada and other OECD countries are the health consequences of obesity. Food group prices can be used to estimate the model if one is interested in a reduced form model of the determinants of obesity and nutrient prices should be used if one is interested in estimating a structural model of obesity that is more amenable to interpretation for policy purposes. The goal of the study is to introduce new nutrient price model and shows its superiority of food group model based on Canadian data Using available data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, food group prices, and constructed nutrient indexes, we confirm the superior performance of variations in nutrient prices compared to variations in food group prices to explain variations in the body mass index (BMI) of Canadians. Results for nutrients indicate that taxing fat and carbohydrates and subsidizing protein would reduce BMI. The implicit tax on fat from dairy supply management is one of the only nutrient-targeted taxes in Canada. In the alternate model, few food group price coefficients are statistically significant. We find that a tax on away-from-home food would reduce the BMI of Canadians. Currently, expenditure on restaurant meals is taxed at the federal level and at the provincial level in all provinces except Alberta and Saskatchewan. The proposed model may be also used for future discussion of the food taxation in other countries where food taxation is not used and the special taxation of restaurant food is not introduced.
goods and services tax, sales tax, supply management, BMI, obesity, nutrient prices