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Unit 1 Micro: Tackling Obesity - Alternative Approaches

Ruth Tarrant

15th May 2011

So far, governments in the developed world seem to have failed in terms of developing and implementing effective policies that might reduce the negative externalities associated with the 'obesity epidemic'. However, based on various different news reports this weekend, it seems that the private sector may actually have come up with some strategies that could be worth a try. My favourite is the 'pay what you weigh' approach in a new style of restaurant in Brazil - the heavier the food on your plate, the higher the price. There's an interesting short clip on this here. Another approach, this time from Pizza Hut, is to offer unlimited free salad with all meals to all customers - apparently they expect to give away 50m cherry tomatoes and 1.3m million cucumbers over the next year! And, whilst I haven't yet seen evidence of this, there is, apparently, an agreement by supermarkets to include portions of vegetables in ready meals in order to help consumers to eat their recommended 5 a day. Whether these approaches will actually make the nation healthier is unclear, but getting students to think of possible unintended consequences of this might be a useful pre-exam evaluative exercise.

Economist video graphic on obesity (December 2012)

Ruth Tarrant

Ruth has been an enthusiastic Head of Economics and Politics for many years, having taught in a variety of schools and at university level. She is also a Senior Examiner. Ruth is passionate about boosting the quality of teaching and learning across all subjects in schools and colleges.

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