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The Economics of Obesity

Eric A. Finkelstein and Kiersten L. Strombotne


The rise in obesity rates, both nationally and internationally, is a result of changes in the environment that have simultaneously lowered the cost of food production, lowered the time and monetary cost of food consumption, increased the real cost of being physically active at work and at home, and decreased the health consequences that result from obesity by bringing a host of new drugs and devices to the market to better manage the adverse health effects that obesity promotes.

This changing environment is in response to consumers’ demand for labor-saving technology and convenient, affordable food. To be successful, efforts to combat obesity therefore need to recognize and address these realities.

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