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Nutrition Labels and Obesity

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  • Jayachandran N. Variyam
  • John Cawley

Abstract

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) imposed significant changes in the information about calories and nutrients that manufacturers of packaged foods must provide to consumers. This paper tests whether the release of this information impacted body weight and obesity among American adults. We estimate the effect of the new label using a difference-in-differences method. We compare the change before and after the implementation of NLEA in body weight among those who use labels when food shopping to that among those who do not use labels. In National Health Interview Survey data we find, among non-Hispanic white women, that the implementation of the new labels was associated with a decrease in body weight and the probability of obesity. Using NLEA regulatory impact analysis benchmarks, we estimate that the total monetary benefit of this decrease in body weight was $63 to $166 billion over a 20-year period, far in excess of the costs of the NLEA.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11956.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11956

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  1. Kim, Sung-Yong & Nayga, Rodolfo M., Jr. & Capps, Oral, Jr., 2000. "The Effect Of Food Label Use On Nutrient Intakes: An Endogenous Switching Regression Analysis," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 25(01), July.
  2. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2004. "Welfare Reform and Health," Working Papers 102-1, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  3. Finkelstein, Amy, 2002. "The effect of tax subsidies to employer-provided supplementary health insurance: evidence from Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 305-339, June.
  4. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  5. Teisl, Mario F. & Levy, Alan S., 1997. "Does Nutrition Labeling Lead To Healthier Eating?," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 28(3), October.
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Cited by:
  1. Cavaliere, Alessia & Banterle, Alessandro, 2008. "Economic factors affecting obesity: an application in Italy," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44324, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  2. Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Fidel Gonzalez, 2009. "The Role Of Uncertainty On U.S. Obesity: An Application Of Control Theory," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-506, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  3. Kiesel, Kristin & Villas-Boas, Sofia B., 2013. "Can information costs affect consumer choice? Nutritional labels in a supermarket experiment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 153-163.
  4. Jutta Roosen & Stéphan Marette & Sandrine Blanchemanche & Philippe Verger, 2009. "Does Health Information Matter for Modifying Consumption? A Field Experiment Measuring the Impact of Risk Information on Fish Consumption," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 2-20.
  5. Ehmke, Mariah D. & Willson, Tina M. & Schroeter, Christiane & Hart, Ann Marie & Coupal, Roger H., 2009. "Obesity Economics for the Western United States," Western Economics Forum, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 8(02).
  6. Silvia Prina & Heather Royer, 2013. "The Importance of Parental Knowledge and Social Norms: Evidence from Weight Report Cards in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 19344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 2925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kiesel, Kristin & Villas-Boas, Sofia B., 2009. "Can Information Costs Confuse Consumer Choice?---Nutritional Labels in a Supermarket Experiment," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt6st6d0rr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  9. Just, David R. & Mancino, Lisa & Wansink, Brian, 2007. "Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?," Economic Research Report 6391, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  10. Stefanella Stranieri & Lucia Baldi & Alessandro Banterle, 2010. "Do Nutrition Claims Matter to Consumers? An Empirical Analysis Considering European Requirements," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 15-33.
  11. Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein & Jessica Wisdom, 2009. "Strategies for Promoting Healthier Food Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 159-64, May.
  12. Jessica Wisdom & Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein, 2010. "Promoting Healthy Choices: Information versus Convenience," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 164-78, April.

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