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Abstract

While obesity is a growing problem that entails considerable costs, its causes for individuals are not yet well understood in economic terms. Three explanatory approaches are explored: obesity as a rational decision pursued by the individual, obesity as a problem of too little information and obesity as the result of a weak will. While the recent rise in obesity can be explained rationally by a changed environment, information deficiencies and akrasia contribute to explaining its frequency. If the state intervenes, a fat tax carries much higher allocative losses than taxing overweight directly.

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