Comparison of Fiscal and Regulatory Policies to Prevent Non-Communicable Diseases in India

India is facing a rising burden of cardiovascular disease and obesity-related diabetes due to increasingly unhealthy diets and tobacco use.

Educational initiatives to reduce the consumption of "'risky commodities"' such as foods high in salt and sugar, palm oils, and cigarettes have been disappointing. As a result, fiscal and regulatory strategies such as food taxes have been proposed to limit consumption of these goods.

This project will explore how to implement these kinds of strategies to maximize health and economic benefits while minimizing potential adverse consequences. Although many studies suggest that fiscal and regulatory approaches can be beneficial, questions remain whether they could have unintended consequences for public health or economic development in India.

For example, would reducing salt intake cause greater iodine deficiency, already a significant risk among rural populations? Will taxes on high-sugar foods negatively affect the economy? How will reducing subsidies to palm oils and increasing subsidies for alternative oils affect food supplies? Will tobacco taxation cause an increase in cardiovascular disease deaths if users switch from taxed cigarettes to bidis (a popular, thin Indian-manufactured cigarette)?

Researchers will develop mathematical models designed to simulate fiscal and regulatory strategies. They will incorporate recently collected survey data of disease risk and consumer purchasing into the models to determine optimal strategies.

Indian legislators are expected to use the study results to inform debates on existing and future legislation regarding nutrition and tobacco policy at the national and state levels. The research will also provide new knowledge about alternative approaches to regulation and fiscal policy and how to minimize any adverse effects.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, October 1, 2012

End Date

Monday, April 20, 2015


24 months

IDRC Officer

Beeche, Arlyne

Total funding

CA$ 143,600


India, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Dr. Sanjay Basu


Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website

Project Leader

Sukumar Vellakkal


Public Health Foundation of India

Institution Country


Institution Website