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Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure

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  • Dragone, Davide
  • Savorelli, Luca

Abstract

The increasing concern of the policy maker about eating behaviour has focused on the spread of obesity and on the evidence of people dieting despite being underweight. As the latter behaviour is often attributed to the social pressure to be thin, some governments have already taken actions to ban ultra-thin ideals and models. This paper proposes a theoretical framework to assess whether increasing the ideal body weight is socially desirable, both from a welfare and a health point of view. We first show that being underweight and being overweight are possible outcomes of a rational eating model. Then, assuming that people are heterogeneous in their healthy weights but exposed to the same ideal body weight, we show that increasing the thin ideal weight can be welfare improving, but may exacerbate the obesity epidemic.

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  • Dragone, Davide & Savorelli, Luca, 2012. "Thinness and obesity: A model of food consumption, health concerns, and social pressure," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 243-256.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:243-256
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.10.005
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Body Weight, Dieting and Obesity Traps," MPRA Paper 67671, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ralph Bradley & Colin Baker, 2013. "The Simultaneous Effects of Obesity, Insurance Choice, and Medical Visit Choice on Health Care Costs," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring and Modeling Health Care Costs, pages 211-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Caliendo, Marco & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2016. "Obesity and the labor market: A fresh look at the weight penalty," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 209-225.
    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. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Social Distortion in Weight Perception: A Decomposition of the Obesity Epidemic," Working Papers in Economics 639, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    6. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2016. "Weight loss, obesity traps and policy policies," MPRA Paper 71327, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Davide, Dragone & Francesco, Manaresi & Luca, Savorelli, 2013. "Obesity and smoking: can we catch two birds with one tax?," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-31, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    8. Zarko Kalamov & Marco Runkel, 2018. "Paternalistic Taxation of Unhealthy Food and the Intensive versus Extensive Margin of Obesity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6911, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Federico Perali & Luca Piccoli & Knut R. Wangen, 2015. "An Extended Theory of Rational Addiction," DEA Working Papers 69, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada.
    10. repec:kap:theord:v:83:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11238-017-9625-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Anthony M Yezer & Stephen J Popick, 2017. "Climate Preferences, Obesity, and Unobserved Heterogeneity in Cities," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(3), pages 309-329, Fall.
    12. Strulik, Holger, 2014. "A mass phenomenon: The social evolution of obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 113-125.
    13. 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.
    14. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2017. "A triple test for behavioral economics models and public health policy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 513-533, December.
    15. Gomis-Porqueras, Pedro & Moslehi, Solmaz & Suen, Richard M.H., 2016. "The role of dietary choices and medical expenditures on health outcomes when health shocks are endogenous," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 13-25.
    16. Zeng, Di & Thomsen, Michael R. & Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr., 2015. "Food Desert and Weight Outcome: Disentangling Confounding Mechanisms," 2016 Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2016, San Francisco, California 212813, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Body weight; Diet; Obesity; Social pressure; Underweight;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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