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How to measure wellbeing: Obesity

Nick Bugs

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Obesity

The World Is Fat How to measure wellbeing: A glimpse into the obesity epidemic Background Utility Opulence Functionings & Capabilities Rights Conclusion American Obesity
1970: 14% obese
Today: ~ 34% Obesity is measured by Body Mass Index
BMI > 30
National Health Interview Survey - self reported
National Health and Nutrition Examination - physicians Not necessarily Common Suspects
Fast Food
Lack of Exercise But rather, More Meals!

Due to technological advances in food preparation:
vacuum packing, etc.
Salty snacks & Sugary desserts
Addictive and tempting
Higher Calorie foods tend to taste better >> higher short-term utility Cost
Junkier foods cost less (i.e. Soda)
1980-2003 price changes:
Fresh fruit 250%
Soda 53%
Consume more for less by switching to junk food
More is better & Save money on groceries >> greater short-term utility Speed
Self-Control - overconsumption as prep-time decreases
Immediate gratification - garner utility earlier - utility less discounted
Irrationally high discount rate on future health costs, which in turn contribute proportionally less disutility

Time . . . Cross-Sectional:

In America, the poor are more likely to be obese Cross-Country:

Dichotomy of Results - Richest countries are both the fatest and the skinniest
It's not the money you have to spend
It's the quality of the food you buy
Time Series:

Even as wealth rises, obesity rates continue to rise
Work more - more fast food
Relatively high increases in fresh food prices Functioning - being in good health
Capability - ability to choose to eat healthily Obese individuals not in good health >> failure of functioning Everyone has the ability, but two mitigating factors:
1. Price incentive - never reach enough to give up cheaper goods
2. Lack of information - correct nutrition is not taught and facts are not listed Least restrictive of rights >> More wellbeing Regulation
Bans on foods
Nutrition Information
Taxes Taxes:
Private costs except additional medical expenses
Small short-term impact on obesity
Long-term (30yrs) price increase (10%) >> decrease BMI (1.5 units) What do you think?
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