Health

"Changes in Household Diet: Determinants and Predictability"

Working paper by Stefan Hut and Emily Oster. Excerpt from the abstract:

American diets are, on average, unhealthy relative to nutritional guidelines. We combine household food purchase data with health information and the timing of diet-related news releases to estimate what types of information or education improves diet and for whom. Our primary finding is that the average household does not improve diet quality in response to serious disease diagnosis (diabetes, hypertension, obesity), changes in government diet recommendations, or major research findings. Households with more economic incentives to be healthy - higher income, higher education, younger - also do not respond significantly. This suggests that dietary choices are difficult to alter.

If this finding is replicated, would it be too much to ask the government to stop hectoring everybody about what they should eat?