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Weight loss, obesity traps and policy policies

Barbieri, Paolo Nicola (2016): Weight loss, obesity traps and policy policies.

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Abstract

This paper presents a theoretical investigation into why losing weight is so difficult even in the absence of rational addiction, time-inconsistent preferences or bounded rationality. We add to the existing literature by focusing on the role that individual metabolism and physical activity have on weight loss. The results from the theoretical model provides multiple steady states and a threshold revealing a situation of obesity traps that the individual must surpass in order to successfully lose weight. Any weight-loss efforts that the individual undertakes have to surpass this threshold in order to result in permanent weight loss, otherwise the individual will gradually regain weight and converge to his or her previous body weight. In addition to this we study how price policies affect individual behavior. We show that food taxes, in the long run, increases body weight, even if food consumption decreases; while price policies aimed at promoting physical activity are able to sustain healthier lifestyle, fitness accumulation and a decreases in body weight.

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