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The rise of obesity in Europe: an economic perspective

Author

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  • Giorgio Brunello
  • Pierre-Carl Michaud
  • Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano

Abstract

"Obesity in Europe is rising. This paper investigates the economic rationales for public intervention to control obesity. We present new empirical evidence showing that family background is related to obesity among young European adults. This evidence provides a strong basis for intervention on equity grounds, particularly targeted towards children. The case for intervention on efficiency grounds is less clear-cut and in most cases the evidence is relatively weak. We find insufficient evidence that information deficiencies are important, as the majority of Europeans appear to be aware of the bad consequences of obesity on health. We also find that the potential health insurance externality -- non-obese effectively subsidizing obese individuals -- is small. In support of policy intervention, we show that there are product and labour market imperfections. Obese employees earn less than the non-obese. We also find that there is a remarkably high proportion of individuals with self-control problems, who fail to stick to their self-declared weight-related plans. Regulations that affect fast food advertisements and the location and access to fast food vending machines and establishments may help these individuals in controlling their weight." Copyright (c) CEPR, CES, MSH, 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Brunello & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano, 2009. "The rise of obesity in Europe: an economic perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 551-596, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:24:y:2009:i::p:551-596
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alois Stutzer & Armando N. Meier, 2016. "Limited Self‐control, Obesity, and the Loss of Happiness," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(11), pages 1409-1424, November.
    2. Pieroni, Luca & Salmasi, Luca, 2010. "Body weight and socio-economic determinants: quantile estimations from the British Household Panel Survey," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-41, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    3. Brunello, Giorgio & Fabbri, Daniele & Fort, Margherita, 2009. "Years of Schooling, Human Capital and the Body Mass Index of European Females," IZA Discussion Papers 4667, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Fabbri & Margherita Fort, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Education on Body Mass: Evidence from Europe," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 195-223.
    5. Caliendo, Marco & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2013. "Fat chance! Obesity and the transition from unemployment to employment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 121-133.
    6. Jan Häußler & Friedrich Breyer, 2016. "Does diabetes prevention pay for itself? Evaluation of the M.O.B.I.L.I.S. program for obese persons," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 17(4), pages 379-389, May.
    7. Brunori, Paolo & Peragine, Vito & Serlenga, Laura, 2012. "Fairness in education: The Italian university before and after the reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 764-777.
    8. Cavaco, Sandra & Eriksson, Tor & Skalli, Ali, 2014. "Life cycle development of obesity and its determinants in six European countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 62-78.
    9. Lusk, Jayson L., 2013. "Lunch with Pigou: Externalities and the “Hidden†Cost of Food," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 42(3), December.
    10. Jan Häußler & Nelli Hankonen & Pilvikki Absetz, 2015. "Economic Evaluation of the GOAL Lifestyle Intervention to Prevent Type-2 Diabetes," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2015-02, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    11. Jan Häußler & Friedrich Breyer, 2013. "Long-Term Effects of Diabetes Prevention: Evaluation of the M.O.B.I.L.I.S. Program for Obese Persons," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1329, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2017. "Soft paternalism, merit goods, and normative individualism," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 125-152, February.
    13. Härkänen, Tommi & Kotakorpi, Kaisa & Pietinen, Pirjo & Pirttilä, Jukka & Reinivuo, Heli & Suoniemi, Ilpo, 2014. "The welfare effects of health-based food tax policy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(P1), pages 196-206.
    14. Brunello, Giorgio & Labartino, Giovanna, 2014. "Regional differences in overweight rates: The case of Italian regions," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 20-29.
    15. R Nakamura & L Siciliani, 2010. "Education and Body Mass Index: Evidence from ECHP," Discussion Papers 10/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
    16. Stavroula Malla & Jill E. Hobbs & Eric K. Sogah, 2016. "Estimating the Potential Benefits of New Health Claims in Canada: The Case of Soluble Fiber and Soy Protein," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 64(2), pages 173-197, June.
    17. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:70-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Cavaco, Sandra & Eriksson, Tor & Skalli, Ali, 2011. "Life Cycle Development of Obesity and Its Determinants," Working Papers 11-7, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    19. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.

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