The economists’ diet

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Elastic demand

The Economists’ Diet: The Surprising Formula for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off. By Christopher Payne and Rob Barnett. Touchstone; 288 pages; $25.

DO YOU indulge in QE (quantitative eating)? Do you have a high marginal propensity to consume chocolate? Then you might be piqued by a diet book from two self-described “formerly obese economists” on how to lose weight.

To be honest, the economics within this book is very much a side order rather than the main course. A diet is described as a “self-imposed eating-austerity programme”. There is some discussion of people’s general failure to give enough weight to the long-term consequences of their actions; a phenomenon known as hyperbolic discounting. And there is some neat use of the concept of diminishing returns. Eat a wide variety of foods and you may always get pleasure from trying something different. But limit your diet and you will soon tire of eating…Continue reading

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