Information Deficits and Overweight

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för nationalekonomi

Abstract: The prevalence of overweight has exploded across the world over the last 30 years. Sometimes known as the obesity epidemic, the steep increase in the number of overweight individuals comes at a large cost, both for the overweight individuals and society. Consequently, the causes of overweight are keenly debated. In this thesis, we investigate one proposed factor behind overweight: incomplete information. In particular, we examine whether there is a correlation between people’s perception of energy content of sugar-rich drinks and energy-dense food products (SDEF) relative to normal meals and their BMI. Through a quantitative study including 301 Swedish adults, we find no evidence that lack of information about energy content of SDEF is an important factor behind overweight. Consequently, we cannot support claims that increased information about energy content of food products (for instance through additional food nutrition labeling) is an essential part of a successful campaign against overweight.

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