Murray State University

Poster Title

Economics of Food and Policy: Study 1: Evaluating Public Policy towards the Obesity Epidemic

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Across the globe scientists and economists alike have been examining the fact that while the amount of calories ingested by consumers has increased over time, intake has not been balanced by a proportional increase in physical activity. As a result, consumers worldwide are rapidly gaining weight. This trend has led many nations to begin examining the obesity epidemic and its effect on the private and public costs of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Also under consideration by these countries are regulatory actions to encourage weight loss and healthier lifestyles. The impact of regulatory actions on consumption decisions has been well studied in the areas of smoking and alcohol abuse. This research uses the methodological frameworks developed in these areas to assess the newer health issue of obesity and to evaluate potential public responses to this health issue. To determine the impact of information requirements and regulatory actions on consumers’ health related consumption decisions, this paper examines the impact of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, and the 2004 policy implemented in Denmark banning food products containing more than 2% industrially produced trans-fat. This research hopes to not only understand what public strategies may be successful in creating policies to assist in fighting the obesity epidemic but also to propose suggestions on how to combat this “rapidly expanding” problem.

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Economics of Food and Policy: Study 1: Evaluating Public Policy towards the Obesity Epidemic

Across the globe scientists and economists alike have been examining the fact that while the amount of calories ingested by consumers has increased over time, intake has not been balanced by a proportional increase in physical activity. As a result, consumers worldwide are rapidly gaining weight. This trend has led many nations to begin examining the obesity epidemic and its effect on the private and public costs of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Also under consideration by these countries are regulatory actions to encourage weight loss and healthier lifestyles. The impact of regulatory actions on consumption decisions has been well studied in the areas of smoking and alcohol abuse. This research uses the methodological frameworks developed in these areas to assess the newer health issue of obesity and to evaluate potential public responses to this health issue. To determine the impact of information requirements and regulatory actions on consumers’ health related consumption decisions, this paper examines the impact of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, and the 2004 policy implemented in Denmark banning food products containing more than 2% industrially produced trans-fat. This research hopes to not only understand what public strategies may be successful in creating policies to assist in fighting the obesity epidemic but also to propose suggestions on how to combat this “rapidly expanding” problem.