The McDonald's Equilibrium: Advertising, Empty Calories, and the Endogenous Determination of Dietary Preferences
A comparison of accepted nutritional advice with actual American dietary practice suggests that many people fail to eat well in spite of well-documented health consequences. Popular culture often labels the worst offenders as lacking in â€œself-control,â€ and many blame the aggressive advertising campaigns of the fast-food and snack-food industries for manipulating consumers into poor diets, but these conclusions are not easily reconciled with a neoclassical approach to economic decision theory. This essay considers the consumerâ€™s â€œdiet problemâ€ in light of emerging evidence from a number of behavioral sciences. In particular, it is argued that human evolution in the distant past resulted in an elegant solution to this problem (of search for a suitable diet in an uncertain environment), which any neoclassical economist would recognize. In modern environments, however, the signals that formerly provided information in the consumerâ€™s search problem are subject to manipulation by food-producing firms. Confirmation by molecular biologists that many human responses to these signals are firmly encoded in our genes suggests a need to re-evaluate the welfare economics of the food industry.
|Date of creation:||16 Aug 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: (805) 893-3670
Fax: (805) 893-8830
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/ucsbecon_dwp/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jack Hirshleifer, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," UCLA Economics Working Papers 087, UCLA Department of Economics.
- John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
- Hirshleifer, Jack, 1985. "The Expanding Domain of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(6), pages 53-68, December.
- Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Evolutionary Theorizing in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 23-46, Spring.
- Arthur J. Robson, 2002. "Evolution and Human Nature," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 89-106, Spring.
- Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
- McCall, John J, 1970. "Economics of Information and Job Search," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 113-26, February.
- Hirshleifer, Jack, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-52, April.
- Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
- Smith, Trenton G, 2002. "Obesity and Nature's Thumbprint: How Modern Waistlines Can Inform Economic Theory," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt31g1m028, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
- Charles Stuart, 1981. "Consumer Protection in Markets with Informationally Weak Buyers," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 562-573, Autumn.
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986.
"Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
- Klamer, Arjo, 1989. "A Conversation with Amartya Sen," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 135-50, Winter.
- Hirshleifer, Jack, 1973. "Where Are We in the Theory of Information?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 31-39, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0hx9x4jr. 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: (Lisa Schiff)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.