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Framing Obesity in Economic Theory and Policy


  • Stefan Mann


This paper explores several explanatory approaches for the rise and the prevalence of obesity in society. Both rationalist approaches and explanations involving information problems or weakness of will are considered. It is shown that many world religions take a united stance against obesity. While the recent rise in obesity can be explained rationally by a changed environment, information deficiencies and akrasia contribute to explaining its frequency in general. If the state intervenes, a “fat tax” carries much higher allocative losses than taxing overweight directly.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Mann, 2008. "Framing Obesity in Economic Theory and Policy," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 66(2), pages 163-179.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:66:y:2008:i:2:p:163-179 DOI: 10.1080/00346760701668461

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wuyts, Stefan & Colombo, Massimo G. & Dutta, Shantanu & Nooteboom, Bart, 2005. "Empirical tests of optimal cognitive distance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 277-302, October.
    2. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    4. Nooteboom, B. & Berger, H. & Noorderhaven, N.G., 1997. "Effects of trust and governance on relational risk," Other publications TiSEM 8e83932e-064c-40e8-afe7-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Krug, B., 2000. "Ties That Bind: the emergence of entrepreneurs in China," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2000-44-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brennan, Andrew John, 2013. "A critique of the perceived solid conceptual foundations of ISEW & GPI — Irving Fisher's cognisance of human-health capital in ‘net psychic income’," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 159-166.
    2. Sodano, Valeria & Verneau, Fabio, 1. "The Many Faces Of Food Sustainability: The Obesity Issue," Politica Agricola Internazionale - International Agricultural Policy, Edizioni L’Informatore Agrario, issue 1.
    3. Konstantinos Eleftheriou & George Athanasiou & Periklis Kougoulis, 2013. "Labour market, obesity and public policy considerations," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 783-793.
    4. Jon D. Wisman & Kevin Capehart, 2009. "Creative Destruction, Economic Insecurity, Stress and Epidemic Obesity," Working Papers 2009-13 JEL classificatio, American University, Department of Economics.


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