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Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity

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  • Courtemanche, Charles
  • Carden, Art

Abstract

Researchers have linked the rise in obesity to technological progress reducing the opportunity cost of food consumption and increasing the opportunity cost of physical activity. We examine this hypothesis in the context of Walmart Supercenters, whose advancements in retail logistics have translated to substantial reductions in the prices of food and other consumer goods. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System matched with Walmart Supercenter entry dates and locations, we examine the effects of Supercenters on body mass index (BMI) and obesity. We account for the endogeneity of Walmart Supercenter locations with an instrumental variables approach that exploits the unique geographical pattern of Supercenter expansion around Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. An additional Supercenter per 100,000 residents increases average BMI by 0.24 units and the obesity rate by 2.3% points. These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart Supercenters explains 10.5% of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s, but the resulting increase in medical expenditures offsets only a small portion of consumers' savings from shopping at Supercenters.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 69 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 165-181

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:69:y:2011:i:2:p:165-181

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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Keywords: Walmart Wal-Mart Supercenter Obesity Body weight Body mass index;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Melayne M. McInnes & Judith A. Shinogle, 2009. "Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors," NBER Working Papers 15039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Grafova, Irina B. & Freedman, Vicki A. & Lurie, Nicole & Kumar, Rizie & Rogowski, Jeannette, 2014. "The difference-in-difference method: Assessing the selection bias in the effects of neighborhood environment on health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 20-33.
  3. Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga & Heather L. Rouse & Michael R. Thomsen, 2014. "Food environment and childhood obesity: The effect of dollar stores," Working Papers, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics 2014-1, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
  4. Courtemanche, Charles & McAlvanah, Patrick & Heutel, Garth, 2011. "Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity," Working Papers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics 11-9, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 28 Sep 2011.
  5. Kapinos, Kandice A. & Yakusheva, Olga & Eisenberg, Daniel, 2014. "Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 98-109.
  6. Salois, Matthew J., 2011. "Obesity and Diabetes, the Built Environment, and the 'Local' Food Economy," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 103649, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  7. Wehby, George L. & Courtemanche, Charles J., 2012. "The heterogeneity of the cigarette price effect on body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 719-729.
  8. Bonanno, Alessandro & Goetz, Stephan J., 2012. "Food Store Density, Nutrition Education, Eating Habits and Obesity," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), vol. 15(4).
  9. Ellickson, Paul B. & Grieco, Paul L.E., 2013. "Wal-Mart and the geography of grocery retailing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 1-14.
  10. Charles J. Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2011. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," NBER Working Papers 17220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Fabrice Etile, 2013. "L'économie des consommations à risques au miroir des politiques de santé publique," Working Papers, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France 221515, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  12. Salois, Matthew J., 2012. "Obesity and diabetes, the built environment, and the ‘local’ food economy in the United States, 2007," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 35-42.
  13. Bonanno, Alessandro & Chenarides, Lauren & Goetz, Stephan J., 2012. "Limited Food Access as an Equilibrium Outcome: An Empirical Analysis," 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 123196, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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