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A Behavioral Model of Cyclical Dieting

  • Steven M. Suranovic

    (The George Washington University)

  • Robert S. Goldfarb

    (The George Washington University)

This paper presents a behavioral economics model with bounded rationality to describe an individual¡¯s food consumption choices that lead to weight gain and dieting. Using a physiological relationship determining calories needed to maintain weight, we simulate the food consumption choices of a representative female over a 30 year period. Results show that a diet will reduce weight only temporarily. Recurrence of weight gain leads to cyclical dieting, which reduces the trend rate of weight increase. Dieting frequency is shown to depend on decision period length, dieting costs, and habit persistence.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/hew/papers/0511/0511002.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series HEW with number 0511002.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 08 Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0511002
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 40
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Dockner, Engelbert J & Feichtinger, Gustav, 1993. "Cyclical Consumption Patterns and Rational Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 256-63, March.
  4. Levy, Amnon, 2002. "Rational eating: can it lead to overweightness or underweightness?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 887-899, September.
  5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2002. "Addiction and Cue-Conditioned Cognitive Processes," NBER Working Papers 9329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Suranovic, Steven M. & Goldfarb, Robert S. & Leonard, Thomas C., 1999. "An economic theory of cigarette addiction," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-29, January.
  8. Loewenstein, George & Adler, Daniel, 1995. "A Bias in the Prediction of Tastes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 929-37, July.
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