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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Health implications of food away from home consumption : a marketing and policy analysis Ghotbi, Sina


This thesis provides two independent empirical quantitative studies on consumer decision-making in the context of food-away-from-home consumption, and examines important public policy and marketing issues. We first study whether meals with diet carbonated soft drinks (CSD) have more calories than meals with regular CSD by investigating an individual-level meal consumption panel dataset between 2000 and 2007 at a major fast-food chain in Canada. This study is motivated by the debate on the effectiveness of diet CSD on weight loss and is the first to provide field-based evidence, supported by within subject variation, on the harm and benefit of diet drinks in terms of caloric consumption within a meal. We find no increase in total calories consumed during a meal, and most diet CSD drinkers also exhibit a reduction in total calories. Looking more narrowly at the food calories in a meal we find that young males are the only group who have more food calories when they choose a diet drink, yet the extra food calories do not exceed the calories saved by consuming diet rather than regular CSD. In the second study, using an individual-level panel dataset on food consumed in all restaurants in Canada, we examine the effect of media coverage of multiple instances of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE – mad cow disease) on the decision to dine out and, once in a restaurant, whether to order beef. We find that when media coverage of BSE crises is high, people eat out less often, decrease the number of beef orders when eating out, and increase the ordering of other products. Interestingly, we find that these effects only hold for well-known, national chain restaurants and not for local restaurants. We develop and implement a modified double-hurdle model that explicitly takes into account participation (i.e., dine out) and consumption (e.g., number of beef orders) information in estimation of the model. This work extends the product harm crises literature to the case of industry level crises and the context of restaurants. The thesis concludes with a brief chapter on limitations and extensions of the research.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada