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Discounts On Healthy Food Effective, Research Says

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Fuseworks Media
Discounts On Healthy Food Effective, Research Says

Wellington, July 13 NZPA - New Zealanders are more likely to buy, and keep buying, healthy food when given an initial discount equal to GST, public health researchers say.

In a randomised study of supermarket food purchases, shoppers were given a 12.5 percent discount on Heart Foundation approved items for six months.

At the end of the discount period shoppers were buying 11 percent more healthy foods, and six months later, with no price incentive, purchases were still healthier, Auckland University nutrition researcher Cliona Ni Mhurchu told the New Zealand Doctor magazine.

At the end of the trial, fruit and vegetable purchases were 10 percent higher than the baseline.

Dr Mhurchu said she was surprised there was an effect on purchases after one year.

"It was entirely possible that once the discounts were removed they would stop [buying more healthily], but there was still an impact...we viewed that as a very positive thing," she said.

Despite the findings, Dr Mhurchu said it was not clear if removing GST from healthy food would change eating habits.

New Zealand Medical Association president Peter Foley today said doctors were concerned about the cost of healthy food choices.

"It's not just about GST ...lots of things could be done to make healthy foods more affordable," he said.

It would be difficult to identify healthy food for GST purposes, he said.

Finance Minister Bill English has said the Government does not intend to create GST exemptions for healthy food.

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