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Study finds fruit & veg subsidies 5 times more effective than soda taxes

Researchers at Harvard and Tufts see huge potential in fruit and vegetable subsidies. They recently published a study analyzing the political makeup of cities across the United States, concluding that 40 percent of Americans live in regions that could pass legislation similar to recent soda taxes.

Rather than a soda tax however, subsidizing fruits and vegetables may actually work a lot better. That’s according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published this month in the journal PLOS ONE. 

Researchers found that a 10 percent produce subsidy would prevent or delay more cardiovascular deaths than a mass media campaign to promote healthy eating, a 10 percent soda tax, or a 30 percent fruit and veggie subsidy just for food stamp users.

The team found subsidies for fruits and vegetables beat taxes on soda by a long shot when measured by the number of lives saved. According to the model, a 10 percent fruit and veggie subsidy would result in more than 150,000 “prevented or postponed” deaths due to cardiovascular disease by 2030. 

That’s almost five times the amount of lives saved by a soda tax (31,000), and a little over four times the estimated number of prevented or postponed deaths from the 30 percent incentive targeted at food stamps users (35,000). 

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