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The Calorie Dilemma: Leaner and Larger, or Tastier yet Smaller Meals? Calorie Consumption and Willingness to Trade Food Quantity for Food Taste

Amir Heiman and Oded Lowengart

No 290013, Discussion Papers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management

Abstract: This paper aims to provide an explanation for the counterintuitive response of some consumers to calorie information, which is described in the literature. While most consumers do not change their food choices post calorie information, some do reduce their calorie consumption, while others increase their calorie consumption by shifting to foods with higher calorie content. Overestimation of calorie content of calorie-dense food has been widely employed to explain the counterintuitive choice of the higher-calorie dish. This paper suggests that since calories are associated with better taste, and there is a distribution of willingness to trade physical appeal for taste, then the odds of a consumer who assigns high importance to taste will shift to the highest calorie entrée are greater than those of a consumer who assigns high importance to her or his looks. Consumers who shift their choices of entrée to that with higher calorie content may reduce the number of side orders, and thus consume fewer calories than previously; while the segment more concerned with calorie consumption may choose to consume more dishes, yet each with lower calorie content. Our empirical study, which is based on market experiments, supports this assertion. The importance of looks and fashion, income, and age characterize the two types of consumers — calorie lovers versus calorie avoiders — while gender affects response to calorie information only.

Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Labor and Human Capital (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 31
Date: 2010
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ags:huaedp:290013

DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.290013

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