NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Can A Rational Choice Framework Make Sense of Anorexia Nervosa?

Robert S. Goldfarb, Thomas C. Leonard, Sara Markowitz, Steven Suranovic

NBER Working Paper No. 14838
Issued in April 2009
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE

Can a rational choice modeling framework help broaden our understanding of anorexia nervosa? This question is interesting because anorexia nervosa is a serious health concern, and because of the following issue: could a rational choice approach shed useful light on a condition which appears to involve "choosing" to be ill? We present a model of weight choice and dieting applicable to anorexia nervosa, and the sometimes-associated purging behavior. We also present empirical evidence about factors possibly contributing to anorexia nervosa. We offer this analysis as a consciousness-raising way of thinking about the condition.

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