The Economics of Health Foods and Policy Issues: Impact of Health Claims on the Demand for Foods and Population Health

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Presseau, Taryn
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Economics
Chronic disease accounts for 70% of deaths globally and causes substantial economic burdens. The largest direct healthcare costs associated with illness in Canada is due to cardiovascular disease (6.8% of total costs) followed by cancer (2.2%) and diabetes (1.3%). Research has indicated diet can significantly reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Governments use health claims to inform consumers about foods’ health attributes and encourage healthy diets. This thesis examines the impacts of health claim policy on food demand and population health in North America. The demand for food is estimated using a linear-approximate almost ideal demand system. Population health is evaluated using a health production function. The results indicate health claims decreased unhealthy food demand between 1.4% and 6.26% and increased healthy food demand between 1.95% and 8.47%. Diet and health claim policy also positively impact population health. Policy recommendations to improve current health claim policy are provided.
Diet , Food consumption , Health policy , Nutrition , Public health policy