Cheaper fruit and veggies, pricey soda 'can save lives'
SCIENTISTS have laid out concrete steps that officials can take to fight obesity - by linking food prices to health effects.
Reducing prices of fruit and vegetables while raising prices for sodas and other sugary drinks could save lives, according to a study released on Tuesday at the American Heart Association's epidemiology and lifestyle meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.
Researchers at Harvard University and Tufts University developed a computer model that predicted a 10 per cent drop in the price of fruits and vegetables could reduce death from cardiovascular disease by 1.2 per cent within five years and nearly 2 per cent within 20 years.
"A change in your diet can be challenging, but if achieved through personal choice or changes in the market place, it can have a profound effect on your cardiovascular health," Harvard professor Thomas Gaziano, the report's lead author, said in a statement.
The price drop could also decrease heart attacks by 2.6 per cent and strokes by 4 per cent over two decades, the report said.
Meanwhile, raising prices of sugary drinks by 10 per cent could lower deaths from cardiovascular diseases by nearly 0.1 per cent within five years.
Together, small price changes could prevent 515,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease and stop nearly 675,000 heart attacks, strokes and other events from occurring, the computer model predicted.
"These novel findings support the need to combine modest taxes and subsidies to better represent the real costs of food to health and society," said Tufts University's Dariush Mozaffarian.