IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jhecon/v31y2012i1p243-256.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016762961100138X
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Atella, Vincenzo & Pace, Noemi & Vuri, Daniela, 2008. "Are employers discriminating with respect to weight?: European Evidence using Quantile Regression," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 305-329, December.
    3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald & Bert Van Landeghem, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 528-538, 04-05.
    4. Brouwer, Werner B.F. & Culyer, Anthony J. & van Exel, N. Job A. & Rutten, Frans F.H., 2008. "Welfarism vs. extra-welfarism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 325-338, March.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    6. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    7. Morris, Stephen, 2006. "Body mass index and occupational attainment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 347-364, March.
    8. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    9. Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
    10. Jay Bhattacharya & M. Kate Bundorf, 2005. "The Incidence of the Healthcare Costs of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    12. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
    13. Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein & Jessica Wisdom, 2009. "Strategies for Promoting Healthier Food Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 159-164, May.
    14. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
    15. Levy, Amnon, 2009. "Rational eating: A proposition revisited," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 908-909, July.
    16. Fabrice Etilé, 2007. "Social norms, ideal body weight and food attitudes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 945-966, September.
    17. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    18. Dragone, Davide, 2009. "A rational eating model of binges, diets and obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 799-804, July.
    19. Mazzocchi, Mario & Traill, W. Bruce & Shogren, Jason F., 2009. "Fat Economics: Nutrition, Health, and Economic Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199213863.
    20. Yaniv, Gideon & Rosin, Odelia & Tobol, Yossef, 2009. "Junk-food, home cooking, physical activity and obesity: The effect of the fat tax and the thin subsidy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 823-830, June.
    21. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899, September.
    22. Levy, Amnon, 2002. "Rational eating: can it lead to overweightness or underweightness?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 887-899, September.
    23. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
    24. Yaniv, Gideon, 2002. "Non-adherence to a low-fat diet: an economic perspective," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 93-104, May.
    25. Brian Wansink & David R. Just & Collin R. Payne, 2009. "Mindless Eating and Healthy Heuristics for the Irrational," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 165-169, May.
    26. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Review of Zoltan J. Acs and Alan Lyles's Obesity, Business and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 974-982, December.
    27. Hurley, Jeremiah, 2000. "An overview of the normative economics of the health sector," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.),Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 55-118, Elsevier.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:31:y:2012:i:1:p:243-256. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.