Estimating the Relationship between Food Prices and Food Consumption—Methods Matter

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Abstract

Concerns about the growing prevalence of obesity worldwide have led researchers and policy makers to investigate the potential health impact of fiscal policies such as taxes on unhealthy foods. A common instrument used to measure the relationship between food prices and food consumption is the price elasticity of demand. Using meta-regression analysis we assessed how differences in methodological approaches to estimating demand affected food price elasticities. Most methodological differences had a statistically significant impact on elasticity estimates, which stresses the importance of using meta-estimates or testing the sensitivity of simulation outcomes to a range of elasticity parameters before drawing policy conclusions.

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