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Take off the heater: Utility effect and food environment effect in food consumption decisions

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  • Lombardini-Riipinen, Chiara
  • Lankoski, Leena
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    Abstract

    In this paper, we describe individual food consumption decisions as driven by a utility effect and a food environment effect. To outline the utility effect, we first develop a new theoretical model of individual food consumption. Next, we introduce the food environment effect by showing how the food environment can affect food consumption decisions and how this can skew the resulting food consumption vector. Finally, we analyse manipulations of the food environment as a potential form of policy intervention. Our key result is that the food environment has several entry points in food consumption decisions and that libertarian paternalistic manipulations of the food environment can be effective, easily implemented, well-accepted and low-cost intervention options to nudge individuals towards healthier food consumption. Thus, a first step in interventions meant to improve diets should always be to attend to the food environment: at the very least to “take off the heater” and ensure that the food environment does not inadvertently guide food consumption decisions in an undesirable direction.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by European Association of Agricultural Economists & Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany with number 116431.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa115:116431

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    Related research

    Keywords: behavioural economics; bounded rationality; bounded self-control; cognitive biases; food choice; food consumption; food environment; food intake; health; identity; social norms; visceral factors; Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; D03; D11; I18; Z13;

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    1. Joan Costa-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2009. "Body image, peer effects and food disorders: evidence from a sample of European women," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 27751, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Brian Wansink & David R. Just & Collin R. Payne, 2009. "Mindless Eating and Healthy Heuristics for the Irrational," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 165-69, May.
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    12. Unnevehr, Laurian J. & Jagmanaite, Evelina, 2008. "Getting rid of trans fats in the US diet: Policies, incentives and progress," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 497-503, December.
    13. Mancino, Lisa & Kinsey, Jean D., 2008. "Is Dietary Knowledge Enough? Hunger, Stress, and Other Roadblocks to Healthy Eating," Economic Research Report 56465, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    14. Just, David R. & Wansink, Brian, 2009. "Smarter Lunchrooms: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Meal Selection," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 24(3).
    15. Just, David R. & Mancino, Lisa & Wansink, Brian, 2007. "Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?," Economic Research Report 6391, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    16. Kahn, Barbara E & Wansink, Brian, 2004. " The Influence of Assortment Structure on Perceived Variety and Consumption Quantities," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 519-33, March.
    17. Kinsey, Jean D. & Mancino, Lisa, 2002. "Diet Quality And Calories Consumed: The Impact Of Being Hungrier, Busier And Eating Out," Working Papers 14324, University of Minnesota, The Food Industry Center.
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