Dietary Consumption & Monetary Consumption

May 9, 2007 by

As some of you may know, I do not study finance. I am currently a Ph.D. student in the Health Care Systems department of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Exactly what does my interest in helping people make the most of their money have to do with my interest in health? I guess the primary commonality is that my research and work on this blog are both about developing mechanisms for people to use to control their consumption or make their consumption more effective. One of my major interests is in thinking of ways to help people gain better control of their dietary consumption (i.e. diet). Exactly what is consumption? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionarycon·sump·tion  Pronunciation: \k?n-?s?m(p)-sh?n\  Function: noun Etymology: Middle English consumpcioun, from Latin consumption-, consumptio, from consumere Date: 14th century 1 a: a progressive wasting away of the body especially from pulmonary tuberculosis b: tuberculosis 2 a: the act or process of consuming <consumption of food> <consumption of resources> b: use by or exposure to a particular group or audience consumption>   3: the utilization of economic goods in the satisfaction of wants or in the process of production resulting chiefly in their destruction, deterioration, or transformation   

In our case, the most appropriate definitions are likely 2a and 2b. People consume their income by spending it on things, and people consume food by eating it. Although dietary and monetary consumption may seem different, both involve impulse control and mental accounting. How many calories have you eaten today? How many dollars have you spent today? In many ways, these are the same sort of calculation. While people may not have “loss-aversion” when dieting, there are many other commonalities.

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