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Principles of Obesity Economics

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera

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Overview

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Economics motivates consumer behavior based on preferences, relative prices, and time and money constraints.  Economics motivates the role for government based on market failure.  Obesity has been deemed a critical public health problem.  This course explores how consumer choices lead to individuals being different weights and discusses whether there is an economic rationale for government intervention in the markets most closely related to food and activity choices. 

Course Objectives
  • Define the concept of consumer sovereignty 
  • Describe how consumers are thought to make choices based on a combination of preferences, relatively prices, and time and money constraints 
  • Describe economic motivations for government action in markets 
  • Consider arguments regarding the appropriateness of a government role in markets that are related to obesity in adults and children

Syllabus

Week 1: Learn some background information about economics, and learn about the epidemiology of obesity and  about direct and indirect costs; andtake a quiz to assess what you have learned; introduce yourself to the class; and begin to have discussions using economic terminology on the BBS

Week 2:
 Learn about  both economic and non-economic influences on obesity;  take a quiz to assess what you have learned; and begin to apply economic logic to potential policies to change consumer behaviors

Week 3: Learn about the limits of consumer sovereignty, how economists motivate government policies, and what some economists think about policies that have already been tried; take a quiz to assess what you have learned; and write a basic policy analysis

Week 4: Complete the final quiz, assess the written work of your peers; and continue to discuss how incentives, information, and constraints affect individuals' choices of food and activity levels and result in individuals being widely varying weights  

Taught by

Kevin Frick

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Reviews for Coursera's Principles of Obesity Economics
2.0 Based on 9 reviews

  • 5 star 0%
  • 4 star 11%
  • 3 star 11%
  • 2 stars 44%
  • 1 stars 33%

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Anonymous
2.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I loved and still love the idea of this class, as this is a major current issue for society and the course should offer a valuable perspective. I imagine the longer 7-week version is more in line with what I expected when I signed up. The 4-week version was too short, not leaving the professor enough time to explain concepts fully or to give chances to cement learning through assignments or readings. Also, it seemed that the quizzes and final assignment were not fully congruent with lecture content, as if assessment items were borrowed from the longer class not tailor-made for this one. Also, the question wording was too often confusing, so that the intention of the question was unclear. Still, all in all, there is value in the information given, though the frustration level with the logistics may be too high a price for some!
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Anonymous
2.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Good concept, but not well executed. The content didn't fully meet the course objectives. The class was actually 3 weeks of content, and not very well integrated. Very little of the actual content was assessed. Four (actually three) weeks of content did not seem adequate even as a basic introduction. Many in the class had no background in economics, while others had degrees and advanced degrees in economics, making for an unbalanced level of expectation. Technical glitches caused ongoing frustration, and the peer evaluation assignment was laden with problems. The class had several hundred enrollees, which pretty much guaranteed that there was little opportunity for interaction with the instructor, or other students, for that matter. Otherwise, the concepts were interesting, and this could be a solid course with a few needed tweaks.
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Anonymous
2.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
While there were some interesting points and I learned a little bit about economics and the some of the questions to ask if considering whether or not a certain policy might impact people in the community's weight, the class was all over the place. There was not economic explanation and background for me. (I have no economic background and the course said it was not necessary.) The technical glitches were major and distracting. The written assignment used vague questions and then expected very specific answers. I'm not a mind reader, so I didn't know what he expected. It only allowed 75 words per answer and that wasn't enough to answer some of the questions in full.
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Anonymous
4.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I had some economic background from many years ago and found it informative and thought provoking .Given that obesity is starting to be of significant public interest it was good to learn about some clear economic arguments about different interventions. It would have worked better if the basic economic slides were integrated in the video presentations . Also found the quizzes thought provoking - in helping me think through some issues
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Anonymous
2.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The best things I learned were from the book that was recommended, and that the course was based upon. The lectures were mostly bits and pieces from the book. The theory presented was basic economic theory with no discussion about how you would ever construct the curves (e.g. demand curve for snacks).
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Anonymous
3.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This has received quite a bit of negative reaction from those who have taken the course, mainly for the presupposition of a decent level of economics knowledge before starting. Nonetheless, the course did give a good overview of how policy might effect obesity. Not a great course, but not bad either.
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Anonymous
1.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The slides were sloppy, the videos were not really professionally made. The professor did not appear too enthusiastic; in consequence, my enthusiasm rose neither.
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Anonymous
1.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I will use many of the examples of the professor as examples to discredit economy. "do you know that, for economy, people are obese because they want to?"
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Anonymous
1.0 6 years ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Poorly designed, poorly presented., and politically biased.
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