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Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and Obesity

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  • Courtemanche, Charles

    ()
    (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics)

  • Carden, Art

    ()
    (Rhodes College)

Abstract

Research attributes much of the rise in obesity to technological progress reducing the cost of food consumption. We examine this hypothesis in the context of Walmart Supercenters, whose advancements in retail logistics have translated to substantial reductions in food prices. 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 0.25 units and the obesity rate by 2.4 percentage points. These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart Supercenters explains 11% 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

Paper provided by University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09-3.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 04 Sep 2008
Date of revision: 29 Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:ris:uncgec:2009_003

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Postal: Box 26165, Greensboro, NC 27402-6165
Phone: (336) 334-5463
Fax: (336) 334-4089
Web page: http://www.uncg.edu/bae/econ/
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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. 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.
  2. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Working Papers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics 11-7, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Melayne M. McInnes & Judith A. Shinogle, 2011. "Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 249-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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).
  7. Matthew, Salois, 2010. "Obesity and Diabetes, the Built Environment, and the ‘Local’ Food Economy," MPRA Paper 27945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. George Wehby & Charles J. Courtemanche, 2012. "The Heterogeneity of the Cigarette Price Effect on Body Mass Index," NBER Working Papers 18087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Charles J. Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, 2011. "Impatience, Incentives, and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 17483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Ellickson, Paul B. & Grieco, Paul L.E., 2013. "Wal-Mart and the geography of grocery retailing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 1-14.

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