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The Value of Normal Body Weight: Evidence from Iceland

The Value of Normal Body Weight: Evidence from Iceland

Title: The Value of Normal Body Weight: Evidence from Iceland
Author: Ásgeirsdóttir, Tinna Laufey
Buason, Arnar   orcid.org/0000-0002-9638-7777
Jonbjarnardottir, Brynja
Ólafsdóttir, Thorhildur   orcid.org/0000-0003-2003-9984
Date: 2021
Language: English
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Félagsvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Social Sciences (UI)
Department: Hagfræðideild (HÍ)
Faculty of Economics (UI)
Series: Applied Economics;53(20)
ISSN: 0003-6846
1466-4283 (eISSN)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2020.1859450
Subject: Heilsuhagfræði; Offita; Health economics
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3476

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Ásgeirsdóttir, T.L., Buason, A., Jonbjarnardottir, B. and Ólafsdóttir, Th. (2021) “The value of normal body weight: evidence from Iceland” Applied Economics 53(20), p. 2292-2304.


Calculations of societal costs of underweight, overweight and obesity have generally failed to include the value of the utility reductions, associated with deviations from normal weight. To remedy this, the monetary compensation needed to offset the welfare loss associated with being underweight, overweight, or obese, according to World Health Organizations standards, is estimated. For this purpose, the compensating income variation (CIV) method is applied to individual-level data from an Icelandic health and lifestyle survey carried out in 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2017. The results show that both males and females would on average be willing to pay a positive amount to move from obesity to normal weight, albeit a varying amount by income group. The CIV for moving from obesity to normal weight among males for the low-, medium-, and high-income groups are $18,022, $25,768, and $632,002 per year. In comparison the same results for females are $9,191, $16,239, and $95,494. However, only females show a positive willingness to pay for not being overweight. The CIV for overweight females for the three income groups is $3,608, $6,375, and $37,488 per year.

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