Nathan Yang, McGill University

Success Breeds Success: Weight Loss Dynamics in the Presence of Short-Term and Long-Term Goals".
Friday, 1 December 2017 - 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
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Contact person: 
Myra Yazbeck
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Free of charge
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We investigate the role of short-term goal achievement on long-term goal achievement under the context of weight loss. Using novel large-scale data from a popular mobile weight management application, we track the daily dynamics of weight loss across a large number of users. The application sets a salient daily budget for calories, and by comparing cases in which the user is slightly under or over-budget, we provide an empirical link between short-term goal achievement and various long-term outcomes. Furthermore, we show that our results are robust to potential manipulation of calories consumption around the goal by leveraging machine learning to predict counterfactual outcomes for the control group. Finally, estimates from a dynamic structural model of calories management reveal that users receive positive utility from past short-term goal accomplishments, and counterfactual analysis with the estimated model quantify the long-run user benefits of various hypothetical policies that adjust the budget.