Can A Rational Choice Framework Make Sense of Anorexia Nervosa?
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.
We thank Bernard Wolf for suggesting extending the model described in this paper to see if it could be used to analyze anorexia, Vivian Valdmanis for helpful comments on an earlier draft, and Marsha Goldfarb and Sarah Duffy for useful suggestions. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.