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Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments

In: Economic Aspects of Obesity

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  • Robert Sandy
  • Gilbert Liu
  • John Ottensmann
  • Rusty Tchernis
  • Jeff Wilson
  • O. T. Ford

Abstract

We utilize clinical records of successive visits by children to pediatric clinics in Indianapolis to estimate the effects on their body mass of environmental changes near their homes. We compare results for fixed-residence children with those for cross-sectional data. Our environmental factors are fast food restaurants, supermarkets, parks, trails, and violent crimes, and 13 types of recreational amenities derived from the interpretation of annual aerial photographs. We looked for responses to these factors changing within buffers of 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1 mile. We found that cross-sectional estimates are quite different from the Fixed Effects estimates of the impacts of amenities locating near a child. In cross section nearby fast food restaurants were associated with higher BMI and supermarkets with lower BMI. These results were reversed in the FE estimates. The recreational amenities that appear to lower children's BMI were fitness areas, kickball diamonds, and volleyball courts. We estimated that locating these amenities near their homes could reduce the weight of an overweight eight-year old boy by 3 to 6 pounds.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Michael Grossman & Naci H. Mocan, 2011. "Economic Aspects of Obesity," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros09-1, July.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11820.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11820

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    1. Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    2. Neeraj Kaushal, 2007. "Do Food Stamps Cause Obesity? Evidence from Immigrant Experience," NBER Working Papers 12849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. John Cawley & Chad Meyerhoefer & David Newhouse, 2007. "The impact of state physical education requirements on youth physical activity and overweight," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(12), pages 1287-1301.
    4. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2005. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Millimet, Daniel L. & Tchernis, Rusty & Husain, Muna, 2008. "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity," IZA Discussion Papers 3664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Burke & Heiland, 2007. "Social Dynamics Of Obesity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 571-591, 07.
    7. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher, 2006. "Reading, Writing, and Refreshments: Are School Finances Contributing to Children’s Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
    8. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Currie, Janet & DellaVigna, Stefano & Moretti, Enrico & Pathania, Vikram, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity," Working Papers, American Association of Wine Economists 47830, American Association of Wine Economists.
    10. Hogan J.W. & Tchernis R., 2004. "Bayesian Factor Analysis for Spatially Correlated Data, With Application to Summarizing Area-Level Material Deprivation From Census Data," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 314-324, January.
    11. Courtemanche, Charles, 2008. "Working Yourself to Death? The Relationship Between Work Hours and Obesity," MPRA Paper 25324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:
    1. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2011. "Equity in health and health care," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2011026, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    2. Fan, Maoyong & Jin, Yanhong H., 2012. "Do Neighborhood Parks And Playgrounds Reduce Childhood Obesity?," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 123421, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Sandy, Robert & Tchernis, Rusty & Wilson, Jeffrey & Liu, Gilbert & Zhou, Xilin, 2013. "Effects of the built environment on childhood obesity: The case of urban recreational trails and crime," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 18-29.

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