According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 35% of adults in the United States are obese. I have done much research on the topic of economic policies to reduce obesity (I did a fat tax simulation for my undergraduate capstone thesis). I have run into three proposals:
1) Fat Tax: A fat tax is a tax on fatty foods or on fats themselves. Various papers I read on the topic simulated a tax on certain fatty foods. However, one paper proposed an ad valorem tax on saturated fats which seems like the most effective way to target fats. The biggest problem found with fat taxes is that fatty foods are very inelastic. This means that a tax won't change consumption much, so this doesn't seem like an effective option.
2) Thin Subsidy: A thin subsidy is pretty much the opposite of a fat tax. It subsidizes foods that are considered healthy. In the literature, this option by itself doesn't change behavior much, but a thin subsidy can also be paired with a fat tax. Basically, the government would use all of the revenues from the fat tax to subsidize healthy foods. When paired together, they are more effective than they are separately, but they still are not very effective in reducing calorie intake.
3) Gym Membership Tax Credit: This is a tax credit you can receive if you have a gym membership. I have not seen as much literature on this topic. Intuitively, if the tax credit is equal to or close to being equal to the cost of the membership, then people may have more incentive to get a gym membership. However, if the credit isn't very close to the cost of the membership, it may not cause people to go get memberships. Another problem with this method is that someone may get a membership and simply not go to the gym. I know most gyms have scanners now, so one remedy could be that the tax credit amount could depend on how many days you scan in.
Other than these three policies, are there any other policies being discussed to slow the trend of obesity? How effective can a policy be in reducing obesity rates?