IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Understanding Overeating and Obesity

  • Christopher J. Ruhm

The combination of economic and biological factors is likely to result in overeating, in the current environment of cheap and readily available food. This propensity is shown using a "dual-decision" approach where choices reflect the interaction between two parts of the brain: a "deliberative" system, operating as in standard economic models, and an "affective" system that responds rapidly to stimuli without considering long-term consequences. This framework is characterized by excess food consumption and body weight, in the sense that individuals prefer both ex-ante and ex-post to eat and weigh less than they actually do, with dieting being common but often unsuccessful or only partially successful. As in the standard model, weight will be related to prices. However, another potentially important reason for rising obesity is that food producers have incentives to engineer products to stimulate the affective system so as to encourage overeating. Data from multiple waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys are used to investigate predictions of the dual-decision model, with the evidence providing broad support for at least some irrationality in food consumption.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16149.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16149.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ruhm, Christopher J., 2012. "Understanding overeating and obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 781-796.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16149
Note: HC HE PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Christian, Thomas & Rashad, Inas, 2009. "Trends in U.S. food prices, 1950-2007," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 113-120, March.
  2. David Laibson, 2001. "A Cue-Theory Of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 81-119, February.
  3. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2010. "Incentives, time use and BMI: The roles of eating, grazing and goods," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 2-15, March.
  5. Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein & Jessica Wisdom, 2009. "Strategies for Promoting Healthier Food Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 159-64, May.
  6. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
  8. Mancino, Lisa & Kinsey, Jean D., 2008. "Is Dietary Knowledge Enough? Hunger, Stress, and Other Roadblocks to Healthy Eating," Economic Research Report 56465, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  9. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
  10. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2009. "The growth of obesity and technological change," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 283-293, December.
  11. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2006. "Reply to Jonathan Gruber and Michael Frakes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 389-393, March.
  12. Shefrin, Hersh M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Behavioral Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 609-43, October.
  13. Paul William Glimcher & Kenway Louie & Joseph Kable, 2007. "Neuroeconomic Studies of Impulsivity: Now or Just as Soon as Possible?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 142-147, May.
  14. Dana Goldman & Darius Lakdawalla & Yuhui Zheng, 2011. "Food Prices and the Dynamics of Body Weight," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 65-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Wells, Hodan Farah & Buzby, Jean C., 2008. "Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005," Economic Information Bulletin 58641, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  16. Charles L. Baum & William F. Ford, 2004. "The wage effects of obesity: a longitudinal study," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(9), pages 885-899.
  17. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
  19. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  20. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Economics Working Papers 0069, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  21. Chouinard Hayley H & Davis David E & LaFrance Jeffrey T & Perloff Jeffrey M, 2007. "Fat Taxes: Big Money for Small Change," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-30, June.
  22. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted, 2004. "Animal Spirits: Affective and Deliberative Processes in Economic Behavior," Working Papers 04-14, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  23. Just, David R., 2006. "Behavioral Economics, Food Assistance, and Obesity," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 35(2), October.
  24. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2004. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2049, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  25. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2007. "Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States," NBER Working Papers 13181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  27. Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001355, David K. Levine.
  28. Courtemanche, Charles, 2009. "Rising cigarette prices and rising obesity: Coincidence or unintended consequence?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 781-798, July.
  29. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
  30. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 7423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  32. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  33. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16149. 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: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.