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The transition to Post-industrial BMI values among US children

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  • Komlos, John
  • Breitfelder, Ariane
  • Sunder, Marco

Abstract

Background: The trend in the BMI values of US children has not been estimated very convincingly because of the absence of longitudinal data. Our object is to estimate time series of BMI values by birth cohorts instead of measurement years. Methods: We use five regression models to estimate the BMI trends of non-Hispanic US-born black and white children and adolescents ages 2-19 between 1941 and 2004. Results: The increase in BMIZ values during the period considered was 1.3σ (95% CI: 1.16σ; 1.44σ) among black girls, 0.8σ for black boys, 0.7σ for white boys, and 0.6σ for white girls. This translates into an increase in BMI values of some 5.6, 3.3, 2.4, and 1.5 units respectively. While the increase in BMI values started among the birth cohorts of the 1940s among black girls, the rate of increase tended to accelerate among all four ethnic/gender groups born in the mid-1950s – early-1960s. Conclusion: Some regional evidence leads to the conjecture that the spread of automobiles and radios affected the BMI values of boys already in the interwar period. We suppose that the changes in lifestyle associated with the labor saving technological developments of the 20th century are associated with the weight gains observed. The increased popularity of television viewing was most prominently associated with the contemporaneous acceleration in BMI gain.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 4304.

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Date of creation: 08 Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:4304

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Keywords: BMI; BMIZ; US; children; youth; adolescents; NHANES; obesity epidemic; overweight;

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References

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  1. Dora L. Costa, 2002. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," NBER Working Papers 8843, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dora Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1997. "Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 47-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tomas Philipson & Richard Posner, 2008. "Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 14010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 897-927, December.
  8. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2003. "Economic perspectives on childhood obesity," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 30-48.
  9. John Komlos & Marieluise Baur, 2003. "From the Tallest to (One of) the Fattest: The Enigmatic Fate of the American Population in the 20th Century," CESifo Working Paper Series 1028, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
  11. John Komlos & Peter Coclanis, . "Nutrition and Economic Development in Post-Reconstruction South Carolina: an Anthropometric Approach," Articles by John Komlos 15, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
  12. Lang, Stefan & Sunder, Marco, 2003. "Non-parametric regression with BayesX: a flexible estimation of trends in human physical stature in 19th century America," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 77-89, January.
  13. 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.
  14. Adonis Yatchew, 1998. "Nonparametric Regression Techniques in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 669-721, June.
  15. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
  16. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Offer, Avner, 2007. "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199216628, September.
  18. Rosenbaum, Paul R., 2005. "Heterogeneity and Causality: Unit Heterogeneity and Design Sensitivity in Observational Studies," The American Statistician, American Statistical Association, vol. 59, pages 147-152, May.
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Cited by:
  1. John Komlos, 2009. "Recent Trends in Height by Gender and Ethnicity in the US in Relation to Levels of Income," NBER Working Papers 14635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Komlos & Marek Brabec, 2010. "The Trend of BMI Values among US Adults," CESifo Working Paper Series 2987, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Simeonova, Emilia & Copeland, William & Angold, Adrian & Costello, Jane E., 2010. "Does More Money Make You Fat? The Effects of Quasi-Experimental Income Transfers on Adolescent and Young Adult Obesity," IZA Discussion Papers 5135, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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