Food Price (+37%) - -> Obesity // Why green arror?

Hi there,
clicking on ‘obesity’ the game tells:
Food Price (+37%) - -> Obesity with a green arror.

I understand this so:
‘Food price’ is a cause for obesity, it increases (green arror) obesity.

Event more in detail:
Increasing food prices increase obesity.

But why? I would tend to say: if food prices rise, than people buy less food, resulting in people getting thinner / lighter So obesity should shrink with higher prices.
And if I may a second question: this (+37%) means what? The food prices increased by 37% in 3 months?
I would be interested in your opinion on this. Thank you!

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Junk food being cheaper than healthy foods.
This should depend on various things like junk food tax, health foods subsidies and so on.

“Junk food being cheaper than healthy foods.” - Sure, this makes sense.
But I still do not see the see the direct logical relation between higher food prices resulting in more obesity.

I think you are interpreting the connection incorrectly. Have you tried to see what happens to obesity as the food price changes? Looking at the formula in the game files for the connection between food price and obesity it is:


In other words, when food prices increase, obesity actually decreases. This is not clearly communcated in the game but that is what would happen if you increase the food price. Is think the rationale for this is that when food gets more expensive people have to think more about what and how much they eat.

The + 37% is the impact the current food price has on obesity. If we assume max obesity means everyone is obese then your food prices are making 37% of the population obese.

Food price is on a scale from 0 to 1, just like everything else in the game. If food prices are at the lowest (x = 0) the impact would be:

0.5 - (0^2) = 0.5 = + 50%

If food prices max out (x = 1) the impact would be:

0.5 - (1^2) = - 0.5 = - 50%

@cliffski is it possible to add some information, that relationship is some constant - thing, like in example above?

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Thank you - interesting. That would be my understanding. But then why use a green color instead of red? Green means basically increasing. That would be nice if the developers would share a word on this, because it touches the basic understanding of the game itself.

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Fun fact: In the US, one of the cheapest foods per calorie you can possibly get is cake mix.
Today, Marie Antoinette would be absolutely right to ask why the people aren’t getting cake if they can’t afford anything else. It really is up there as one of the cheapest things to do if you need to worry feeding your kids at all. That’s why low income folks have higher rates of obesity in many developed countries.

This perhaps would be less true for nations where such calorie rich low nutrient foods are less subsidized.

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It is green precisely because obesity is increased by food price, despite the correlation being negative.

If @cliffski happens to read this, consider having obesity start out at +0.5 and let food prices only decrease it by 0-(x^2), it makes these sorts of things so much clearer.

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No, I respectfully do not agree :slight_smile: . Obesity is increased by food in this case, because food is on the left side, meaning being a cause for this. The point is: green means throughout the game ‘increasing’. It could also be red, hence decreasing. Why is food price going up (+37%) increasing obesity? I would say: the arrow should be red, meaning it should decrease obesity. Higher prices = people buy less food.

@cliffski Would you please explain us (or at least me) how to read / to interpret / to translate the visual data of that particular screen into words, since this is the main purpose / mechanic in this game.
Thank you very much!

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Food price can either increase or decrease obesity. Green means its making obesity worse, because food is too cheap, whereas red means its reducing obesity because food is relatively expensive. Its a non-linear relationship:
Its an interesting point that maybe it might be clearer to have it only ever reduce obesity…but then surely people want to see the food price go down, and then notice here that the food price drop has caused an obesity rise?

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Food price isn’t going up, in fact it not going anywhere. AT THE CURRENT LEVEL (it’s not changing), the effect it has is obesity is +37%.

In my previous comment i suggested to Cliff how this confusion could be avoided, because I agree green should mean positive correlation (if x goes up so does y). The reason is the effect crosses zero.


On the x-axis is food price (can only go between 0 and 1), on the y-axis is obesity. In your game, you are about where the dot is. If food prices go up (going to the right on the x-axis) obesity does decrease, but since it crosses zero at one point, the green (which makes is seem like a positive correlation to the player) turns red (makes it seem like a negative correlation) which makes it very hard to figure out if I as a player want food prices to go up or down. I would argue this is bad design, there should be a higher flat rate of obesity and food prices shoud only make it go down. I don’t know in how many places in the game this happens, but the effect of one parameter on another should never cross zero, it should only be positive or negative and reach zero on one extreme. (Policies effects can cross zero because you can easily see what’s going on by moving the slider)

@cliffski If you could find all equations in the game where the effect crosses zero or the effect is the opposite of the correlation (for this to be the case the effect has to start at a non-zero amount, in this case 0.5. If the amount is positive and the slope is negative or vice versa, it will be misleading) that would be greatly appreciated. I have only seen this in a few spots, and it is really annoying because it makes the player take the exact opposite action to what the should to get the desired outcome.

In this specific case, obesity should start out at 0.5 instad of 0, and the equation for the effect food prices have should be changed to 0-(x^2). All value would stay the same, no additional balancing would be required, the only thing this accomplishes is making the cause and effect more clear.

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“Food price isn’t going up, in fact it not going anywhere. AT THE CURRENT LEVEL (it’s not changing), the effect it has is obesity is +37%.”

A BIG Thank you! for taking the time and clarifying this point!

I never did come to understand the graphic in that way, that food was too cheap.
(!). Then it makes sense that obesity gets increased - and so green makes sense.

PS A FAQ section in this forum where to collect such information could be a nice addition.

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Imo that would be sort of wrong. There’s a good reason why higher price might increase obesity. (See my post above)
However, actually, it’d depend on the precise situation of the food market. Maybe the way out would be to separate out the effects of healthy vs. unhealthy foods?
Food subsidies often are given to high-calorie foods, which actually makes sense at first, as you struggle to keep your population fed at all, but once that is accomplished, and everybody gets enough, you’d want to promote food of high nutritional value.
So really, how much, and in what direction, obesity depends on food price ought to be modified by an extra effect that is a stand-in for food quality, which might be increased by food stamps, free school lunch, food labelling, healthy food subsidies, junk food tax, and possibly vertical farms, but decreased by regular farm subsidies. This might also help with modelling very poor countries where getting everybody fed is a genuine concern today.
And I’d argue any direct health effects any food-related policy other than free school lunch and food stamps have (because those two may mitigate people who genuinely normally get too little) should instead be indirect via food price and that food quality idea.

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The only problem with having separate food price and quality merasurements is that it clutters the UI with yet another variable to keep track of, which can start to make the game super-complex. Its already near-impossible to balance :smiley: We do have policies that indirectkly affect a lot of this, like the junk food tax / health food subsidies and the food standards agency, which is assumed to be reducing ‘bad’ food.

I think Alazn02 makes a very good point on the way this stuff is presented, and if I was not frantically already doing 100 other things I’d address this now, but instead I’ll add it to the todo list of doom.

Also note that one thing on the todo list is to add a mouse-over visualisation of each effect, in graph-form so that users can work this stuff out really easily.