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Take off the heater: Utility effect and food environment effect in food consumption decisions


  • Lombardini-Riipinen, Chiara
  • Lankoski, Leena


In this paper, we describe individual food consumption decisions as driven by a utility effect and a food environment effect. To outline the utility effect, we first develop a new theoretical model of individual food consumption. Next, we introduce the food environment effect by showing how the food environment can affect food consumption decisions and how this can skew the resulting food consumption vector. Finally, we analyse manipulations of the food environment as a potential form of policy intervention. Our key result is that the food environment has several entry points in food consumption decisions and that libertarian paternalistic manipulations of the food environment can be effective, easily implemented, well-accepted and low-cost intervention options to nudge individuals towards healthier food consumption. Thus, a first step in interventions meant to improve diets should always be to attend to the food environment: at the very least to “take off the heater” and ensure that the food environment does not inadvertently guide food consumption decisions in an undesirable direction.

Suggested Citation

  • Lombardini-Riipinen, Chiara & Lankoski, Leena, 2010. "Take off the heater: Utility effect and food environment effect in food consumption decisions," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116431, European Association of Agricultural Economists;Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa115:116431

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    behavioural economics; bounded rationality; bounded self-control; cognitive biases; food choice; food consumption; food environment; food intake; health; identity; social norms; visceral factors; Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Demand and Price Analysis; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; D03; D11; I18; Z13;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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