Health Economics, Policy and Law

Articles

What is the public appetite for healthy eating policies? Evidence from a cross-European survey

Mario Mazzocchia1 c1, Silvia Cagnonea2, Tino Bech-Larsena3, Barbara Niedźwiedzkaa4, Anna Sabaa5, Bhavani Shankara6, Wim Verbekea7 and W Bruce Trailla8

a1 Associate Professor, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

a2 Assistant Professor, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

a3 Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

a4 Head of Department, Institute of Public Health, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland

a5 Senior Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Rome, Italy

a6 Professor, Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health and School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK

a7 Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

a8 Professor, Department of Food Economics and Marketing, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Abstract

World Health Organization estimates that obesity accounts for 2–8% of health care costs in different parts of Europe, and highlights a key role for national policymaking in curbing the epidemic. A variety of healthy-eating policy instruments are available, ranging from more paternalistic policies to those less intrusive. Our aim is to measure and explain the level of public support for different types of healthy eating policy in Europe, based on data from a probabilistic sample of 3003 respondents in five European countries. We find that the main drivers of policy support are attitudinal factors, especially attribution of obesity to excessive availability of unhealthy foods, while socio-demographic characteristics and political preferences have little explanatory power. A high level of support for healthy eating policy does not translate into acceptance of higher taxes to fund them, however.

(Received December 31 2012)

(Revised December 09 2013)

(Accepted July 17 2014)

(Online publication August 29 2014)

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence to: Mario Mazzocchi, Associate Professor, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, Via Belle Arti 41, 40124 Bologna, Italy. Email: m.mazzocchi@unibo.it