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The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity

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  • Currie, Janet
  • DellaVigna, Stefano
  • Moretti, Enrico
  • Pathania, Vikram

Abstract

We investigate the health consequences of changes in the supply of fast food using the exact geographical location of fast food restaurants. Specifically, we ask how the supply of fast food affects the obesity rates of 3 million school children and the weight gain of over 1 million pregnant women. We find that among 9th grade children, a fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school is associated with at least a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. There is no discernable effect at .25 miles and at .5 miles. Among pregnant women, models with mother fixed effects indicate that a fast food restaurant within a half mile of her residence results in a 2.5 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos. The effect is larger, but less precisely estimated at .1 miles. In contrast, the presence of non-fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with obesity and weight gain. Moreover, proximity to future fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with current obesity and weight gain, conditional on current proximity to fast food. The implied effects of fast-food on caloric intake are at least one order of magnitude smaller for mothers, which suggests that they are less constrained by travel costs than school children. Our results imply that policies restricting access to fast food near schools could have significant effects on obesity among school children, but similar policies restricting the availability of fast food in residential areas are unlikely to have large effects on adults.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by American Association of Wine Economists in its series Working Papers with number 47830.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aawewp:47830

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Web page: http://www.wine-economics.org
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Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy;

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References

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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Diane Whitemore Schanzenbach, 2007. "Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature?," NBER Chapters, in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 149-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-72, June.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  7. Cawley, John & Liu, Feng, 2012. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity: A search for mechanisms in time use data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 352-364.
  8. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin Butcher, 2004. "Reading, writing, and raisinets: are school finances contributing to children’s obesity?," Working Paper Series WP-04-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Working Paper Series WP-02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. 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.
  11. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2005. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," NBER Working Papers 11584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Sara Bleich & David Cutler & Christopher Murray & Alyce Adams, 2007. "Why Is The Developed World Obese?," NBER Working Papers 12954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. 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), vol. 15(4).
  2. Robert Sandy & Gilbert Liu & John Ottensmann & Rusty Tchernis & Jeff Wilson & O. T. Ford, 2011. "Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 181-221 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Van de Poel, E & O'Donnell, O & van Doorslaer, E, 2008. "Urbanization and the spread of diseases of affluence in China," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 08/25, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  4. Chen, Susan E. & Florax, Raymond J.G.M. & Snyder, Samantha D., 2009. "Obesity in Urban Food Markets: Evidence from Geo-referenced Micro Data," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49512, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  5. Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  6. Bryan Bollinger & Phillip Leslie & Alan Sorensen, 2010. "Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants," NBER Working Papers 15648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Philip Gleason & Ronette Briefel & er Wilson & Allison Hedley Dodd, 2009. "School Meal Program Participation and Its Association with Dietary Patterns and Childhood Obesity," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6342, Mathematica Policy Research.

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