To a Senate hearing on obesity issues, health expert, Professor Christian Gericke argued that there was an obesity epidemic amongst children and said:
“We should also subsidise fresh fruit and vegetables, the healthy option, so not to punish people with a tax, but counterbalance that by making the healthy foods cheaper.”
Good news. We do! Fresh food is exempt from the GST and we can count our water pricing policy as a subsidy to producing fresh produce. That means at least 10 percent less tax. Sounds like an incentive to me. Did anyone care to measure diet and obesity before and after 2001?
I’m thinking, price isn’t the issue here. You can pretty much give it away and it will change little. We try this every night. Of course, then again we ban other stuff and make it choice between eat this or starve. It is not uncommon to choose to starve.
But, hey, what do I know. How about we conduct a randomised trial to work out (a) how much diet really impacts on obesity and (b) whether if you uses taxes and subsidies you can change diet in a positive way? Until we are willing to hold up economic policy to the same standards we do when prescribing medical treatments, let’s stop throwing these suggestions out there.