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The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain

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

We investigate how changes in the supply of fast food restaurants affect weight outcomes of 3 million children and 3 million pregnant women. Among ninth graders, a fast food restaurant within 0.1 miles of a school results in a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. Among pregnant women, a fast-food restaurant within 0.5 miles of residence results in a 1.6 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos. The implied effects on caloric intake are one order of magnitude larger for children than for mothers, consistent with smaller travel cost for adults. Non-fast food restaurants and future fast-food restaurants are uncorrelated with weight outcomes. (JEL I12, J13, J16, L83)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 32-63

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:32-63
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.2.3.32
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  1. 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.
  2. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
  3. Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-88, January.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher, 2005. "Reading, Writing and Raisinets: Are School Finances Contributing to Children's Obesity?," NBER Working Papers 11177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. John Cawley & Feng Liu, 2007. "Maternal Employment and Childhood Obesity: A Search for Mechanisms in Time Use Data," NBER Working Papers 13600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal Employment and Overweight Children," NBER Working Papers 8770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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