"Fit or fat": an empirical analysis of the factors influencing individuals' food consumption decisions
Document Type Dissertation/Thesis
Over the past decade there has been a significant rise in the levels of both eating disorders and obesity in the United States. Although both psychology and sociology have done extensive research on these topics, we believe that an economic analysis of these issues can provide a more comprehensive understanding of an individual's food consumption behavior and, therefore, shed light on any additional factors that influence an individual's food consmnption choices. In the paper, we discuss the results of Walker (1984) and Philipson and Posner (1999) who develop theoretical models of utility maximizing individuals in order to examine the factors affecting an individual's food consumption behavior. We then examine empirically those factors which may influence an individual's decision to restrict food consumption. We use both the ordinary least squares and probit estimation procedures to test a number of hypotheses. The results indicate that the factors influencing male and female food consumption decisions differ greatly. Males alter their consumption decisions when exposed to additional benefits and females alter their food consumption decisions on the basis of what they perceive they will benefit from.