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Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure

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  • Dragone, Davide
  • Savorelli, Luca

Abstract

The increasing concern of the policy maker about eating behaviour has focused on the spread of obesity and on the evidence of people dieting despite being underweight. As the latter behaviour is often attributed to the social pressure to be thin, some governments have already taken actions to ban ultra-thin ideals and models. This paper proposes a theoretical framework to assess whether increasing the ideal body weight is socially desirable, both from a welfare and a health point of view. We first show that being underweight and being overweight are possible outcomes of a rational eating model. Then, assuming that people are heterogeneous in their healthy weights but exposed to the same ideal body weight, we show that increasing the thin ideal weight can be welfare improving, but may exacerbate the obesity epidemic.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 243-256

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:243-256

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Body weight; Diet; Obesity; Social pressure; Underweight;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Liu, Yaqin & Ferreira, Susana & Colson, Gregory & Wetzstein, Michael, 2013. "Obesity and Counseling," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149947, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. Caliendo, Marco & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2014. "Obesity and the Labor Market: A Fresh Look at the Weight Penalty," IZA Discussion Papers 7947, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. D. Dragone & F. Manaresi & L. Savorelli, 2013. "Obesity and smoking: can we catch two birds with one tax?," Working Papers wp873, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  4. Strulik, Holger, 2014. "A mass phenomenon: The social evolution of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 113-125.
  5. Javier Rivas & Miguel Flores, 2011. "Cash Incentives and Unhealthy Food Consumption," Discussion Papers in Economics 11/47, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Jan 2012.
  6. Pedro Gomis Porqueras & Solmaz Moslehi & Richard M. H. Suen, 2013. "Endogenous Health in a Model of Calories, Medical Services and Health Shocks," Economics Series 2013_4, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  7. Colin Baker & Ralph Bradley, 2013. "The Simultaneous Effects of Obesity, Insurance Choice, and Medical Visit Choice on Healthcare Costs," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Modeling Health Care Costs National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "A Triple Test for Behavioral Economics Models and Public Health Policy," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 14-01, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..

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