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Obesity as a Function of Personal Behavior

Decent Essays
The prevalence of obesity has increased significantly over the last decade, and its causes are as varied as the people it affects. The effects on health and the burden it places on healthcare systems have correspondingly risen ominously. Obesity not only imposes a significant human burden of morbidity, mortality, social exclusion and discrimination but substantial economic costs. In the last decade, we have better assessed the direct and indirect economic burden of an increasingly overweight population; however, its causes for individuals are not yet well understood in economic terms. The social sciences have provided a number of explanations: these are broadly categorised as environmental (such as socio-economic context and changes in technological developments in both worlds of work and leisure), individual behaviour and genetic (though there is still little evidence of this). Here, I will examine obesity as a function of personal behaviour, ceteris paribus. I will explore this in three veins: obesity as a rational decision pursued by the individual, obesity as the result of a weak will, and as a form of (un/)willing addiction. Traditional economic science prefers to depict developments as the outcome of rational decision-making by individuals. The rationality of humans is defined by the attempt to maximize their utility, a proxy for well-being. Applying this procedure to the case of obesity, one has to analyse the relationship between the uptake of excess calories and an
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