Document Detail

Obesity: can behavioral economics help?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19760473     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Consumers regularly and predictably behave in ways that contradict standard assumptions of economic analysis such that they make decisions that prevent them from reaching rationally intended goals. These contradictions play a significant role with respect to consumers' food decisions and the effect these decisions have on their health. DISCUSSION: Food decisions that are rationally derived include those that trade short-term gains of sensory pleasure (hedonic) for longer term gains of health and wellness (utilitarian). However, extra-rational food decisions are much more common. They can occur because of the contexts in which they are made--such as being distracted or pressed for time. In these contexts, heuristics (or rules of thumb) are used. Because food decisions are made with little cognitive involvement, food policies designed to appeal to highly cognitive thought (e.g., fat taxes, detailed information labels) are likely to have little impact. Furthermore, food marketing environments influence not only what foods consumers buy but also how much. As a general principle, when individuals do not behave in their own interest, markets will feed perverse and sub-optimal behaviors. CONCLUSION: Given the limited ability of individuals to retain and use accurate health information coupled with varying levels of self control, profit motivations of marketers can become predatory--though not necessarily malicious. Alternative policy options that do not restrict choice are outlined, which enable consumers to make better decisions. These options allow for profit motivations of marketers to align with the long-term well being of the consumer.
David R Just; Collin R Payne
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review     Date:  2009-09-17
Journal Detail:
Title:  Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine     Volume:  38 Suppl 1     ISSN:  1532-4796     ISO Abbreviation:  Ann Behav Med     Publication Date:  2009 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-01-21     Completed Date:  2010-04-09     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8510246     Medline TA:  Ann Behav Med     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  S47-55     Citation Subset:  IM    
Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, 254 Warren Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Choice Behavior
Consumer Health Information
Costs and Cost Analysis / economics
Feeding Behavior / psychology
Food / economics
Food Industry / economics
Food Preferences / psychology
Health Behavior
Health Policy
Models, Psychological
Obesity / psychology*
Restaurants / economics

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