The Effects of Health Risk Assessments on Cafeteria Purchases: Do New Information and Health Training Matter?

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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Silvia Prina
Case University

Using a unique dataset combining health screenings data with cafeteria purchases, we test whether the provision of tailored health information, via health risk assessments, affects individuals’ eating behavior. We use an event-study framework to estimate the effects of learning one’s cholesterol level on the overall sample, on individuals with high cholesterol, and on individuals with previously undiagnosed high cholesterol. We find a reduction in cafeteria spending in the latter two groups which is consistently larger in the previously undiagnosed sample. The effects do not seem to decay over a period of five months. These effects appear to be driven by medically-trained employees, such as physicians and nurses. Survey evidence suggests knowledge about the consequences of health risks and a sense of responsibility to model health behavior might be important, while nutritional knowledge does not seem to matter.