Taxing fruit and veg will add to disease burden: study

In response to the renewed debate on the GST prior to the federal election, researchers from the School of Public Health modelled the lifetime effects of reduced fruit and vegetable consumption on the prevalence of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and incidents of stroke and cancer, and the associated healthcare costs.

They estimated the removal of the 10% GST exemption would lead to an additional 64,495 cases of IHD, 13,572 cases of stroke and 12,077 cancer cases, and cost 100,000 healthy life-years over the lifetime of the 2003 Australian adult population.

The researchers estimated the extra disease burden could add $1 billion to healthcare costs over the same period.

The research was based on estimates of the price elasticity of demand for fruits and vegetables in the United States, which indicated there would be a 4.9% decrease in consumption of fruit and a 4.8% decrease in vegetable consumption should the 10% GST exemption be removed.