Obesity and the Updating of Survival Expectations

Novak, Beatriz
Working paper no. 2011-07


The causes and consequences of the increasing trend in obesity prevalence observed worldwide have been a subject of interest of researchers, health agencies, and policy makers. The general public is also increasingly concerned about the health-related effects of adult obesity, as shown by several polls. Not only is adult obesity progressively perceived as health threat, but concern about childhood obesity is also growing, as its prevalence has rapidly increased. However, the ways in which individuals perceive and evaluate the effects their excessive body weight may have on their health, and ultimately on their survival, has rarely been analyzed. In this study I investigate whether personal health shocks related to excess body weight influence individuals’ risk perceptions. Further, I study whether these perceptions have changed after a decade of increasing scientific interest and media attention on the health problems related to obesity