© 2012


The Surprising Reasons America Is the Land of the Free—And the Home of the Fat

  • The book provides an accessible discussion of America's weight gain. It provides a variety of surprising reasons for the country's (and world's) weight gain (relating to the growth in world trade freedom, the downfall of communism, the spread of free-market economics, the rise of woman's liberation, and the fall in real minimum wage).

  • The book provides discussions of unheralded consequences of the country's weight gain (greater fuel consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, growth in health insurance costs, reductions in the wages of heavy people, and required reinforcement of rescue equipment) .

  • The book explains the economic foundation of the coming "fat (policy) war" over proposed fat taxes and bans. The book takes a decidedly free-market bent on how the country's weight problems should and should not be solved (with a theme that heavy people must be held fully responsible for their weight-related costs and not be allowed to shift blame for their weight to their genes or environment)


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 1-20
  3. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 21-50
  4. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 51-64
  5. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 65-97
  6. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 99-119
  7. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 121-148
  8. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 149-161
  9. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 163-200
  10. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 201-223
  11. Richard B. McKenzie
    Pages 225-239
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 241-325

About this book


In HEAVY! Professor McKenzie addresses ‘the coming fat (policy) war’ over proposed fat taxes and bans, making the case for heavy people bearing the full burden of their weight-related costs.

America has become the heaviest country in the world. This book lays out the unheralded, mainly economic reasons for the country’s weight gain, which include – believe it or not – the growth in world trade freedom, the downfall of communism, and the rise of women’s liberation. The consequences of this trend are a HEAVY! burden as well, resulting in greater emissions of greenhouse gases, rising health insurance costs and fewer insured Americans, reductions in the wages of heavy people, and requiring reinforced rescue equipment and hospital operating tables.

“If you aren’t interested in the economic, political or health implications of a heavier America, then this book is not for you. But if you want a view on the obesity “crisis” that is informed, balanced and full of surprising causes and consequences for America’s excess tonnage, and suspect that there is more to lose than pounds from turning politicians loose on this problem, then read this book."

Dwight Lee
William J. O'Neil Chair of Global Markets and Freedom,
Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University

"Richard McKenzie provides an entertaining tour of the economic, biological, and social causes and consequences of Americans' eating habits."

J. Daniel Hammond
Hultquist Family Professor
Department of Economics, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem

"Vividly written and full of insight, HEAVY! powerfully illustrates how the economics of obesity will be shaping our health, wealth, and the coming policy debates around foods, fuels, and freedom of choice."

Lorens A. Helmchen, Associate Professor, George Mason University


Fat Fat taxes Fat war Obesity Overweight

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Paul Merage School of BusinessUniversity of California, IrvineIRVINEUSA

About the authors

Richard McKenzie is the Walter B. Gerken Professor of Economics and Management in the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. He has written over thirty books, several of which have been written for general audiences, including The Home: A Memoir of Growing Up in an Orphanage (Basic Books 1996 and Dickens Press 2006), Getting Rich in America: Eight Simple Rules for Building a Fortune and a Satisfying Life (Harper 1998) and Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies, And Other Pricing Puzzles (Springer 2008). His most recent strictly academic books include Predictably Rational? In Search of Defenses of Rational Behavior in Economics (Springer 2010) and In Defense of Monopoly: How Market Power Fosters creative Production (with Dwight Lee, University of Michigan Press, 2008). He is also co-author of a widely used textbook, Microeconomics for MBAs: The Economic Way of Thinking for Managers. His book with Gordon Tullock, The New World of Economics, which has been used over the years in most of the country’s leading colleges and universities and has been translated into several languages, will be published in a revived sixth edition in 2011. Professor McKenzie has written any number of public policy commentaries carried in national and major regional newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Reader’s Digest. Finally, he has produced a PBS-syndicated documentary Homecoming: The Forgotten World of America’s Orphanages

Bibliographic information