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Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences


  • Kuchler, Fred
  • Golan, Elise H.
  • Variyam, Jayachandran N.
  • Crutchfield, Stephen R.


Americans are increasingly overweight, with the number of obese adults and overweight children doubling between the late 1970s and early 2000s. Several studies of the health consequences of Americans’ weight gain indicate that health care costs and the number of premature deaths associated with obesity and overweight are high. A recent (lower) estimate of the number of premature deaths published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals the uncertainty researchers face in associating weight status with mortality. Of course, scientific uncertainty does not mute demands for public action.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuchler, Fred & Golan, Elise H. & Variyam, Jayachandran N. & Crutchfield, Stephen R., 2005. "Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersaw:129515

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    Cited by:

    1. L. Pieroni & D. Lanari & L. Salmasi, 2013. "Food prices and overweight patterns in Italy," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(1), pages 133-151, February.
    2. Berning, Joshua P., 2010. "Voluntary Restrictions On Television Advertising For Carbonated Soft Drinks: The Impact On Consumer Demand," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116418, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Olivier Allais & Patrice Bertail & Véronique Nichèle, 2010. "The Effects of a Fat Tax on French Households' Purchases: A Nutritional Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(1), pages 228-245.
    4. Alston, Julian M. & Mullally, Conner C. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Townsend, Marilyn & Vosti, Stephen A., 2009. "Likely effects on obesity from proposed changes to the US food stamp program," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 176-184, April.
    5. Tomas Philipson & Richard Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 14010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Venturini, Luciano, 2006. "Food and Health: A European Perspective," Conference Papers 6684, University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
    7. Chouinard, Hayley H & Davis, David E. & LaFrance, Jeffrey T. & Perloff, Jeffrey M, 2005. "The Effects of a Fat Tax on Dairy Products," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt60t1f3tn, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.


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