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The Obesity Crisis as Market Failure: An Analysis of Systemic Causes and Corrective Mechanisms

Author

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  • Aneel Karnani
  • Brent McFerran
  • Anirban Mukhopadhyay

Abstract

Obesity has high personal, social, and economic costs. Since medical research demonstrates that the primary cause of obesity is caloric intake, and food is bought and sold in the consumer marketplace, we begin with the argument that obesity represents a case of market failure. Integrating empirical research in consumer behavior with theories from public economics and business strategy, we examine the four possible corrective mechanisms to address market failures: government intervention, corporate social responsibility, industry self-regulation, and social activism. Taking the same lens, we examine how market-level conditions can be applied to correct market failures in the context of obesity, making a critical evaluation of various extant suggestions on how best to address the problem of obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Aneel Karnani & Brent McFerran & Anirban Mukhopadhyay, 2016. "The Obesity Crisis as Market Failure: An Analysis of Systemic Causes and Corrective Mechanisms," Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(3), pages 445-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jacres:doi:10.1086/686244
    DOI: 10.1086/686244
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