A widespread meal-serving system commonly blamed for contributing to the obesity epidemic is the all-you-can-eat buffet, where customers can help themselves to as much food as they wish to eat in a single meal for a fixed entry price. The paper offers a rational-choice model for addressing the individual's eating dilemma in an-all-you-can-eat buffet, incorporating the motivation of getting-one's-money's-worth as a behavioral constraint on eating. Contrary to previous findings, the model reveals that the individual will not necessarily overeat beyond the point of fullness and will not necessarily increase eating in response to a higher entry price. An experiment conducted in collaboration with a sushi restaurant supports this conclusion. The paper further shows that a fat tax imposed on both buffet and a-la-carte meals will not affect buffet eating, hence subjecting all-you-can-eat buffets to the fat tax program need not be counter-effective as the literature results imply.
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