Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Obesity and Nature's Thumbprint: How Modern Waistlines Can Inform Economic Theory

Contents:

Author Info

  • Smith, Trenton G

Abstract

The modern prevalence and negative consequences of obesity suggest that many people have a tendency to eat more than is optimal. This paper examines the biological underpinnings of mammalian feeding behavior in an attempt to reconcile the “self-control problem†with the normative tradition of neoclassical economics. Medical, genetic, and molecular evidence suggest that overeating is a manifestation of the fundamental mismatch between ancient environments—in which preferences for eating evolved—and modern environments. The phenomenon can be described with a simple optimal foraging model in which both the utility function and the Bayesian prior are generated endogenously in the distant past. The implied disparity between subjective probabilities and actual probabilities has potentially broad implications for welfare economics.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/31g1m028.pdf;origin=repeccitec
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt31g1m028.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 23 Aug 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt31g1m028

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 2127 North Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9210
Phone: (805) 893-3670
Fax: (805) 893-8830
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/ucsbecon_dwp/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Obesity; nature's thumbprint; Waistlines; Economic Theory;

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  2. Cropper, Maureen L & Aydede, Sema K & Portney, Paul R, 1994. "Preferences for Life Saving Programs: How the Public Discounts Time and Age," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 243-65, May.
  3. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-43, October.
  4. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-52, April.
  5. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
  6. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  7. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, December.
  8. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1990. "Malthusian Selection of Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 529-44, June.
  9. Jack Hirshleifer, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," UCLA Economics Working Papers, UCLA Department of Economics 087, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  11. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
  12. Horowitz, John K., 1992. "A test of intertemporal consistency," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 171-182, January.
  13. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  14. Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
  15. Levin, Laurence, 1998. "Are assets fungible?: Testing the behavioral theory of life-cycle savings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 59-83, July.
  16. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  17. Ainslie, George, 1991. "Derivation of "Rational" Economic Behavior from Hyperbolic Discount Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 334-40, May.
  18. Cropper, Maureen L & Aydede, Sema K & Portney, Paul R, 1992. "Rates of Time Preference for Saving Lives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 469-72, May.
  19. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  20. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  21. John Kagel & Raymond Battalio & Leonard Green, 1995. "Economic choice theory. an experimental analysis of animal behavior," Framed Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00166, The Field Experiments Website.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Smith, Trenton G, 2002. "The McDonald's Equilibrium: Advertising, Empty Calories, and the Endogenous Determination of Dietary Preferences," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara qt0hx9x4jr, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Trenton G. Smith & Attila Tasnádi, 2005. "A Theory of Natural Addiction," Microeconomics, EconWPA 0503006, EconWPA.
  3. Robert Goldfarb & Thomas C. Leonard & Steven Suranovic, 2006. "Modeling Alternative Motives for Dieting," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 115-131, Winter.
  4. Miller, Richard D. & Frech, Ted, 2002. "The Productivity of Health Care and Pharmaceuticals: Quality of Life, Cause," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara qt4b55f1xp, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  5. Pere Gomis-Porqueras & Adrian Peralta-Alva, 2008. "A macroeconomic analysis of obesity," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 2008-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt31g1m028. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.