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For a Few Cents More: Why Supersize Unhealthy Food?

Author

Listed:
  • Paul W. Dobson

    () (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom)

  • Eitan Gerstner

    () (Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel)

Abstract

Health-care experts believe that increases in portion sizes served by food vendors contribute to the obesity epidemic. This paper shows that food vendors can profit handsomely by using supersizing strategies where regular portion sizes are priced sufficiently high to discourage price-conscious consumers from selecting them, and the prices for enlarging food portions are set so low that these customers are tempted to order the larger portion sizes and overeat. Setting aside the impact of obesity on health-care costs, we show that using supersizing to steer customers toward consuming excessive amounts of food can destroy value from a social perspective; thus this social value destruction trap adds another justification for pressuring food vendors to reduce supersizing for unhealthy food. As a public policy response, we consider how "moderating policies" may counter these effects through measures designed specifically to encourage eating in moderation by applying supersizing bans, taxes, and warnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul W. Dobson & Eitan Gerstner, 2010. "For a Few Cents More: Why Supersize Unhealthy Food?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 770-778, 07-08.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:770-778
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.1100.0558
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christensen, Else Gry Bro & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Packaging of sin goods – Commitment or exploitation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 62-74.
    2. Lan, Hao & Lloyd, Tim A. & Morgan, C. Wyn, 2013. "The hazard function of sales: An analysis of UK supermarket food prices," 87th Annual Conference, April 8-10, 2013, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 151972, Agricultural Economics Society.
    3. Stoeckl, Verena E. & Luedicke, Marius K., 2015. "Doing well while doing good? An integrative review of marketing criticism and response," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2452-2463.
    4. Dobson, Paul W. & Chakraborty, Ratula & Seaton, Jonathan S., 2017. "Containing big soda: Countering inducements to buy large-size sugary drinks," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 185-191.

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