BMI and Healthcare Cost Impact of Eliminating Tax Subsidy for Advertising Unhealthy Food to Youth

Kendrin R. Sonneville, Michael W. Long, Zachary J. Ward, Stephen C. Resch, Y. Claire Wang, Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Marj L. Moodie, Rob Carter, Gary Sacks, Boyd A. Swinburn, Steven L. Gortmaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Food and beverage TV advertising contributes to childhood obesity. The current tax treatment of advertising as an ordinary business expense in the U.S. subsidizes marketing of nutritionally poor foods and beverages to children. This study models the effect of a national intervention that eliminates the tax subsidy of advertising nutritionally poor foods and beverages on TV to children aged 2-19 years. Methods: We adapted and modified the Assessing Cost Effectiveness framework and methods to create the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost Effectiveness Study model to simulate the impact of the intervention over the 2015-2025 period for the U.S. population, including short-term effects on BMI and 10-year healthcare expenditures. We simulated uncertainty intervals (UIs) using probabilistic sensitivity analysis and discounted outcomes at 3% annually. Data were analyzed in 2014. Results: We estimated the intervention would reduce an aggregate 2.13 million (95% UI=0.83 million, 3.52 million) BMI units in the population and would cost $1.16 per BMI unit reduced (95% UI=$0.51, $2.63). From 2015 to 2025, the intervention would result in $352 million (95% UI=$138 million, $581 million) in healthcare cost savings and gain 4,538 (95% UI=1,752, 7,489) quality-adjusted life-years. Conclusions: Eliminating the tax subsidy of TV advertising costs for nutritionally poor foods and beverages advertised to children and adolescents would likely be a cost-saving strategy to reduce childhood obesity and related healthcare expenditures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-134
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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