'Traffic-light' nutrition labelling and 'junk-food' tax: a modelled comparison of cost-effectiveness for obesity prevention

Sacks, G., Veerman, J.L., Moodie, M. and Swinburn, B. (2011) 'Traffic-light' nutrition labelling and 'junk-food' tax: a modelled comparison of cost-effectiveness for obesity prevention. International Journal of Obesity, 35 7: 1001-1009. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.228

Author Sacks, G.
Veerman, J.L.
Moodie, M.
Swinburn, B.
Title 'Traffic-light' nutrition labelling and 'junk-food' tax: a modelled comparison of cost-effectiveness for obesity prevention
Journal name International Journal of Obesity   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0307-0565
Publication date 2011-07
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1038/ijo.2010.228
Volume 35
Issue 7
Start page 1001
End page 1009
Total pages 9
Place of publication Stockton, England
Publisher Macmillan
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
 Cost-effectiveness analyses are important tools in efforts to prioritise interventions for obesity prevention. Modelling facilitates evaluation of multiple scenarios with varying assumptions. This study compares the cost-effectiveness of conservative scenarios for two commonly proposed policy-based interventions: front-of-pack 'traffic-light' nutrition labelling (traffic-light labelling) and a tax on unhealthy foods ('junk-food' tax).

or traffic-light labelling, estimates of changes in energy intake were based on an assumed 10% shift in consumption towards healthier options in four food categories (breakfast cereals, pastries, sausages and preprepared meals) in 10% of adults. For the 'junk-food' tax, price elasticities were used to estimate a change in energy intake in response to a 10% price increase in seven food categories (including soft drinks, confectionery and snack foods). Changes in population weight and body mass index by sex were then estimated based on these changes in population energy intake, along with subsequent impacts on disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Associated resource use was measured and costed using pathway analysis, based on a health sector perspective (with some industry costs included). Costs and health outcomes were discounted at 3%. The cost-effectiveness of each intervention was modelled for the 2003 Australian adult population.

Both interventions resulted in reduced mean weight (traffic-light labelling: 1.3 kg (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 1.2; 1.4); 'junk-food' tax: 1.6 kg (95% UI: 1.5; 1.7)); and DALYs averted (traffic-light labelling: 45 100 (95% UI: 37 700; 60 100); 'junk-food' tax: 559 000 (95% UI: 459 500; 676 000)). Cost outlays were AUD81 million (95% UI: 44.7; 108.0) for traffic-light labelling and AUD18 million (95% UI: 14.4; 21.6) for 'junk-food' tax. Cost-effectiveness analysis showed both interventions were 'dominant' (effective and cost-saving).


Policy-based population-wide interventions such as traffic-light nutrition labelling and taxes on unhealthy foods are likely to offer excellent 'value for money' as obesity prevention measures.
Keyword Obesity prevention
Food taxes
Nutrition labelling
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online 16 Novemver, 2010.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Created: Wed, 02 Feb 2011, 13:23:55 EST by Geraldine Fitzgerald on behalf of School of Public Health