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An economy of scales: A selective review of obesity's economic causes, consequences, and solutions

John Cawley ()

Journal of Health Economics, 2015, vol. 43, issue C, 244-268

Abstract: This paper reviews the economic research on obesity, covering topics such as the measurement of, and trends in, obesity, the economic causes of obesity (e.g. the monetary price and time cost of food, food assistance programs, income, education, macroeconomic conditions, and peer effects), and the economic consequences of obesity (e.g. lower wages, a lower probability of employment, and higher medical care costs). It also examines the extent to which obesity imposes negative externalities, and economic interventions that could potentially internalize such externalities, such as food taxes, subsidies for school-based physical activity programs, and financial rewards for weight loss. It discusses other economic rationales for government intervention with respect to obesity, such as imperfect information, time inconsistent preferences, and irrational behavior. It concludes by proposing a research agenda for the field.

Keywords: Obesity; Diet; Physical activity; Nutrition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D1 D6 D8 H2 H3 I12 I18 I10 I13 J3 J7 J11 L66 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2015.03.001

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Journal of Health Economics is currently edited by J. P. Newhouse, A. J. Culyer, R. Frank, K. Claxton and T. McGuire

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