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Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments

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  • Kapinos, Kandice A.
  • Yakusheva, Olga
  • Eisenberg, Daniel
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    Abstract

    This study utilizes a natural experiment—conditionally random dormitory assignments of first-year US college students—to investigate the influence of obesogenic environmental factors in explaining changes in weight and exercise behavior during the 2009–2010 academic year. The design addresses potential selection biases resulting from the likelihood that individuals sort into built environments that match their preferences for exercise and healthy eating. We find some evidence that the food environment, specifically access to campus dining, significantly affected the weight of female students in our study. Females assigned to dormitories where the nearest campus dining hall was closed on the weekends gained about 1lb less over the course of the year than females assigned to dormitories near dining halls that were open 7 days a week. We also find some evidence that female who lived in close proximity to a grocery store gained less weight over the course of the year. Finally, females who lived closer to campus gym reported more frequent exercise over the course of the year. We do not find significant effects of the built environment on weight changes of males in our sample, but we are cautious to draw strong conclusions from this because the male weight change in our sample was quite small.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 98-109

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:12:y:2014:i:c:p:98-109

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    Keywords: Weight gain; Built environment effects; Obesity;

    References

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    1. Andrew J. Plantinga & Stephanie Bernell, 2007. "The Association Between Urban Sprawl And Obesity: Is It A Two-Way Street?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(5), pages 857-879.
    2. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2008. "Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and Obesity," Working Papers 09-3, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 29 Jan 2009.
    3. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2009. "Weight gain in adolescents and their peers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 181-190, July.
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    7. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G. & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A, 2007. "Fat City: Questioning the Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Obesity," CEPR Discussion Papers 6191, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Subramanian, S. V., 2004. "The relevance of multilevel statistical methods for identifying causal neighborhood effects," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(10), pages 1961-1967, May.
    9. Oakes, J. Michael, 2004. "The (mis)estimation of neighborhood effects: causal inference for a practicable social epidemiology," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(10), pages 1929-1952, May.
    10. Peter Z. Schochet, 2008. "Guidelines for Multiple Testing in Impact Evaluations of Educational Interventions," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 5944, Mathematica Policy Research.
    11. Ethan Cohen-Cole & Jason M. Fletcher, 2008. "Is obesity contagious?: social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU08-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    12. Ng, Shu Wen & Norton, Edward C. & Popkin, Barry M., 2009. "Why have physical activity levels declined among Chinese adults? Findings from the 1991-2006 China health and nutrition surveys," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1305-1314, April.
    13. Zhenxiang Zhao & Robert Kaestner, 2009. "Effects of Urban Sprawl on Obesity," NBER Working Papers 15436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Review of Zoltan J. Acs and Alan Lyles's Obesity, Business and Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 974-82, December.
    15. Komlos, John & Brabec, Marek, 2011. "The trend of BMI values of US adults by deciles, birth cohorts 1882-1986 stratified by gender and ethnicity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 234-250, July.
    16. Yakusheva, Olga & Kapinos, Kandice & Weiss, Marianne, 2011. "Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 119-132, March.
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