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Economic Stressors and the Demand for "Fattening" Foods

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  • Trenton Smith

    ()
    (School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University)

Abstract

A broad and growing literature suggests that uncertainty with respect to income, employment, and/or the financial resources necessary to buy food may cause people to gain weight. The theory—inspired by theory and evidence from behavioral ecology—posits that economic insecurity triggers a physiological fattening response, but the mechanisms by which weight gain occurs (e.g., physical activity, caloric intake, dietary quality, basal metabolism, depression) are not known. This paper reviews and synthesizes evidence supporting a dietary quality mechanism, in which economic insecurity triggers a shift in food preferences toward “fattening” foods. Interestingly, the foods to which individuals appear to be drawn under these circumstances are those which the anthropological evidence suggests would have been eaten (in pre-industrial societies) during periods of seasonal food scarcity

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File URL: http://faculty.ses.wsu.edu/WorkingPapers/TSmith/wp2011-1.pdf
File Function: First version, 2011
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University in its series Working Papers with number 2011-1.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wsu:wpaper:tgsmith-8

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Keywords: obesity; glycemic effects; stress; evolution;

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