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Abstract

This paper contributes to the literature on sustainable consumption by using scenario analysis to evaluate the health costs of the U.S. diet relative to the French, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Nordic diets, identified in the literature as healthier diets. As a first step in estimating health costs, a pooled cross-section time-series dataset is used to find the association between BMI and five countries, representative of the five diets. The costs are assessed using estimates in the literature of the health costs associated with an increase in BMI. All four alternative diets result in reduced BMI and, hence, reduced health costs compared to the United States. The Mediterranean diet is the least costly when dietary compositions shifts, but total caloric consumption is held constant at the U.S. level. However, the Japanese diet is the least costly when both dietary composition and total caloric consumption are allowed to shift to the respective level in each diet.

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