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Abstract

Consumer inability to make healthy food choices and to maintain a balanced diet is one of the main determinants that can explain the growth of overweight and obesity. Many studies have focused on the different factors affecting food behaviour, but only few of these have considered the role of time preference. The term time preference refers to the rate at which a person is willing to trade a current utility with a delayed utility. Generally, a high time preference is associated with a low will to renounce to the present gratification in order to obtain a benefit in the future. On the contrary, consumers with low time preference are more willing to undertake short-term costs to get future improvements. Indeed, people who highly discount the future are expected to suffer overweight and obesity more than others. In this paper we aim at investigating if consumer time preference could be related to overweight or obesity problems, also considering other factors which are predicted to affect BMI. In order to carry out an empirical analysis we conducted a consumer survey using face to face interviews. The sample was composed by 240 consumers living in North Italy. A specific questionnaire was designed and for the empirical estimation was used an Ordinal Regression Model, where the dependent variable is expressed in terms of consumer BMI. The results revealed that the searching frequency for nutrition claims is negatively correlated with BMI. This suggests that this kind of information is not very effective in catching overweight and obese consumer attention. Moreover, the results show that time preference is negatively related to BMI, meaning that to give more importance to taste than to healthy aspects of foods may lead consumers to increase their probability to put on weight.

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