What if you decided to rate all the fast-food restaurants in your city. How would that affect your diet?
I recently listened to an interesting podcast about a woman in Louisville, KY who loved cheeseburgers. She decided to rate all the eating establishments in her area that serves cheeseburgers.
But she’d also heard all the horror stories about what happens to your health if you eat too much fast food. What to do?
She decided to try her project anyway, but she would limit her restaurant visits to twice a week, eat healthier the rest of the time, start an exercise program, and monitor her health vital statistics.
It took her a year to complete her quest. And at the end, spoiler alert, her health stats were about the same as when she started. It actually wasn’t until she had been on her original diet for awhile that she noticed any negative health trends.
I’m a firm believer in the Law of Unintended Consequences. When she finished her project, she also stopped her healthy adjustments that she had started as a precaution. So her diet was actually worse without cheeseburgers two days a week (unless of course they were a major part of her diet anyway).
Behaviorial economics is a fascinating field, with some interesting implications. Would football players actually be safer (ie, more careful) without helmets? Do airbags cause drivers to take more chances?
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
The podcast is “The Cheeseburger Diet” and can be found at http://freakonomics.com/2015/12/10/the-cheeseburger-diet-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/