Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 291–303 | Cite as

Factors Affecting the Probability of Choosing a Risky Diet

  • Michael S. Finke
  • Sandra J. Huston


Eating a poor diet is risky behavior. Inadequate nutrition compromises health and can increase the probability of premature death and/or reduced life quality. This paper uses a cost-benefit analysis from a health economic perspective to assess impact of costs and benefits associated with the odds of choosing a risky diet. Results indicate that time preference as measured through education, smoking, exercise, nutrition panel use, and motivation for nutrition knowledge significantly affect the odds of choosing a risky diet. In addition, variables hypothesized to influence the associated costs of tradeoff between present and future utility—location (both region and urbanization), income, race, gender, and age—are found to have an impact on the likelihood of choosing a risky diet.

diet choice risk time preference 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker, G. S. (1965). A theory of the allocation of time. Economic Journal, 75, 493–517.Google Scholar
  2. Blaylock, J., Smallwood, D., Kassel, K., Variyam, J., & Aldrich, L. (1999). Economics, food choices, and nutrition. Food Policy, 24, 269–286.Google Scholar
  3. Bowman, S. A., Lino, M., Gerrior, S. A., & Basiotis, P. P. (1998). The healthy eating index: 1994–1996. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. CNPP-5. Retrieved March 15, 2002, from–96.PDFGoogle Scholar
  4. Bretteville-Jensen, A. L. (1999). Addiction and discounting. Journal of Health Economics, 18, 393–407.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, G. B., & Coups, E. J. (1999). Time preferences and preventive health behavior: Acceptance of the influenza vaccine. Medical Decision Making, 19, 307–314.Google Scholar
  6. Frazao, E. (1999). High costs of poor eating patterns in the United States. America's Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences, Agricultural Information Bulletin, 750, 5–31.Google Scholar
  7. Fuchs, V. (1982). Time preference and health: An exploratory study. In V. Fuchs (Ed.), Economic aspects of health (pp. 93–120). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Gerrior, S., Guthrie, J., Fox, J., Lutz, S., Keane, T., & Basiotis, P. (1995). Differences in the dietary quality of adults living in single versus multiperson households. Journal of Nutrition Education, 27, 113–119.Google Scholar
  9. Grossman, M. (1972). On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. Journal of Political Economy, 80, 223–255.Google Scholar
  10. Huston, S. J., & Finke, M. S. (in press). Diet choice and the role of time preference. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 37(1).Google Scholar
  11. Huston, S. J., Finke, M. S., & Bhargava, V. (2002). The motivations behind nutrition knowledge. Proceedings of the 31st Conference of the Eastern Family Economics and Resource Management Association, 32–39.Google Scholar
  12. Kant, A. K., & Graubard, B. I. (1999). Variability in selected indexes of overall diet quality. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 69, 419–427.Google Scholar
  13. Kennedy, E., Bowman, S. A., Lino, M., Gerrior, S. A., & Basiotis, P. (2000). Diet quality of Americans. America's Eating Habits: Changes and Consequences, Agricultural Information Bulletin, 750, 97–109.Google Scholar
  14. Kim, S. Y., Nayga, R. M., Jr., & Capps, O., Jr. (2000). The effect of food label use on nutrient intakes: An endogeneous switching regression analysis. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 25(1), 215–231.Google Scholar
  15. Kim, S. Y., Nayga, R. M., Jr., & Capps, O., Jr. (2001). Food label use, self-selectivity, and diet quality. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 35(2), 346–363.Google Scholar
  16. Kristal, A. R., Hedderson, M. M., Patterson, R. E., & Neuhauser, M. L. (2001). Predictors of self-initiated, healthful dietary change. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101, 762–766.Google Scholar
  17. Lancaster, K. (1966). A new approach to consumer theory. The Journal of Political Economy, 74(2), 132–157.Google Scholar
  18. Mokdad, A. H., Serdula, M., Dietz, W., Bowman, B., Marks, J., & Koplan, J. (1999). The spread of the obesity epidemic in the United States, 1991–1998. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282, 1519–1522.Google Scholar
  19. Munasinghe, L., & Sicherman, N. (2000). Why do dancers smoke? Time preference, occupational choice, and wage growth (NBER Working Papers 7542). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research Inc.Google Scholar
  20. Nayga, R. M., Jr. (1998). Consumer characteristics associated with low fat, low cholesterol foods. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 1, 41–49.Google Scholar
  21. Nayga, R. M., Jr. (2001). Effect of schooling on obesity: Is health knowledge a moderating factor? Education Economics, 9(2), 129–137.Google Scholar
  22. Nayga, R. M., Jr., Tepper, B. J., & Rosenzweig, L. (1999). Assessing the importance of health and nutrition related factors on food demand: A variable preference investigation. Applied Economics, 31, 1541–1549.Google Scholar
  23. Vuchinich, R. E., & Simpson, C. A. (1999). Delayed reward discounting in alcohol abuse. In, F. Chaploupka, M. J. Grossman, W. K. Bickel, & H. Saffer (Eds.), The Economic Analysis of Substance Use and Abuse. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 103–122.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael S. Finke
    • 1
  • Sandra J. Huston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Consumer and Family EconomicsUniversity of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia

Personalised recommendations