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Inappropriate diets have been found to cause long-term health problems in most industrial and post-industrial countries worldwide. Despite the existence of dietary guidelines in many countries – and widespread familiarity with these guidelines – large shares of the populations do not comply with these guidelines. The objective of the paper is to investigate economic explanations for non-compliance quantitatively, focusing on consumers’ perceived value of reduced freedom of choice, if they should comply with the dietary recommendations. The paper establishes and econometric simulation model for Danish food consumers, which is used for calculating these economic welfare losses, as well as the contribution to these losses from individual recommendations. Results show that if all the official dietary guidelines should be followed, consumers will experience an average perceived welfare loss, which in monetary terms correspond to 10-20 per cent of the food budget. There is some variation across the population, and substantial share of the consumers face a welfare loss below 10 per cent of the food budget. Recommendations on the intake of fruits, vegetables and seafood are found to be most binding.


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