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Why Have Americans Become More Obese?

  • David M. Cutler
  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Americans have become considerably more obese over the past 25 years. This increase is primarily the result of consuming more calories. The increase in food consumption is itself the result of technological innovations which made it possible for food to be mass prepared far from the point of consumption, and consumed with lower time costs of preparation and cleaning. Price changes are normally beneficial, but may not be if people have self-control problems. This applies to some, but not most, of the population.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533003769204371
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 17 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 93-118

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:17:y:2003:i:3:p:93-118
Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533003769204371
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  1. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2003. "Engines of Liberation," RCER Working Papers 503, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  3. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio LopezdeSilanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," NBER Working Papers 7892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  6. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Robert W. Fogel, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 4638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Costas Meghir, 1993. "Consumer demand and the life-cycle allocation of household expenditures," IFS Working Papers W93/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Tobacco at the Crossroads: The Past and Future of Smoking Regulation in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 193-212, Spring.
  12. 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.
  13. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
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