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A Behavioral Model of Cyclical Dieting

The Economics of Obesity

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1406-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-482-9

ISSN: 0731-2199

Publication date: 1 January 2006


This paper presents a behavioral economics model with bounded rationality to describe an individual's food consumption choices that lead to weight gain and dieting. Using a physiological relationship determining calories needed to maintain weight, we simulate the food consumption choices of a representative female over a 30-year period. Results show an individual will periodically choose to diet, but that diet will reduce weight only temporarily. Recurrence of weight gain leads to cyclical dieting, which reduces the trend rate of weight increase. Dieting frequency is shown to depend on decision period length, dieting costs, and habit persistence.


Suranovic, S.M. and Goldfarb, R.S. (2006), "A Behavioral Model of Cyclical Dieting", Bolin, K. and Cawley, J. (Ed.) The Economics of Obesity (Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 49-78.



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