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Thinness and Obesity: A Model of Food Consumption, Health Concerns, and Social Pressure

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  • Davide Dragone
  • Luca Savorelli

Abstract

The increasing concern of the policy maker about eating behavior has focused on thespread of obesity and on the evidence of a consistent number of individuals dietingdespite being underweight. As the latter behavior is often attributed to the socialpressure to be thin, some governments have already taken actions to ban ultra-thinideals and testimonials. Assuming that people are heterogeneous in their healthyweights, but are exposed to the same ideal body weight, this paper proposes atheoretical framework to assess whether increasing the ideal body weight is sociallydesirable, both from a welfare and from a health point of view. If being overweightis the average condition and the ideal body weight is thin, increasing the ideal bodyweight may increase welfare by reducing social pressure. By contrast, health is onaverage reduced, since people depart even further from their healthy weight. Giventhat in the US and in Europe people are on average overweight, we conclude thatthese policies, even when are welfare improving, may foster the obesity epidemic.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series with number 017.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:017

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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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. Strulik, Holger, 2012. "A Mass Phenomenon: The Social Evolution of Obesity," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-489, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Marco Caliendo & Markus Gehrsitz, 2014. "Obesity and the Labor Market: A Fresh Look at the Weight Penalty," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 631, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  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. 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..
  8. 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.

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