Higher taxes on unhealthy food is a fiscal tool that has been proposed in the literature as a solution to control obesity and promote healthy food purchase. However, taxes have to be abnormally high to be effective. In a state like Alabama, which is one of the poorest state in nation and where obesity rate is eight highest among nation, a rising tax on unhealthy food is not a practical solution to alleviate the obesity problem. Alternative interventions like education about healthy food consumption and discount coupons for healthy food items are more effective for low income families because they are more price sensitive and expected to respond to reward based fiscal incentives. In addition, healthy food purchase will help reduce obesity among adult and children. In collaboration with Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE), and 2 grocery stores serving low income families in Alabama, this project implements healthy food purchase through healthy food consumption education among low income families in Alabama. In addition this project designs and tests the effectiveness of targeted intervention in the form of targeted discount food coupons for healthy food. Result of this project helps design appropriate fiscal tool to reduce obesity in Alabama.
Dr. Tannista Banerjee