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The effect of fast-food availability on fast-food consumption and obesity among rural residents: An analysis by race/ethnicity

  • Dunn, Richard A.
  • Sharkey, Joseph R.
  • Horel, Scott

Rural areas of the United States tend to have higher obesity rates than urban areas, particularly in regions with high proportions of non-white residents. This paper analyzes the effect of fast-food availability on the level of fast-food consumption and obesity risk among both white and non-white residents of central Texas. Potential endogeneity of fast-food availability is addressed through instrumental variables regression using distance to the nearest major highway as an instrument. We find that non-whites tend to exhibit higher obesity rates, greater access to fast-food establishments and higher consumption of fast-food meals compared to their white counterparts. In addition, we found that whites and non-whites respond differently to the availability of fast-food in rural environments. Greater availability is not associated with either greater consumption of fast-food meals or a higher obesity risk among the sample of whites. In contrast, greater availability of fast-food is positively associated with both the number of meals consumed for non-white rural residents and their obesity. While our results are robust to specification, the effect of availability on weight outcomes is notably weaker when indirectly calculated from the implied relationship between consumption and caloric intake. This highlights the importance of directly examining the proposed mechanism through which an environmental factor influences weight outcomes.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-13

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:10:y:2012:i:1:p:1-13
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  1. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Powell, Lisa M. & Bao, Yanjun, 2009. "Food prices, access to food outlets and child weight," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 64-72, March.
  3. John L. Park & Rodney B. Holcomb & Kellie Curry Raper & Oral Capps, 1996. "A Demand Systems Analysis of Food Commodities by U.S. Households Segmented by Income," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(2), pages 290-300.
  4. Graddy, Kathryn, 1997. "Do Fast-Food Chains Price Discriminate on the Race and Income Characteristics of an Area?," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(4), pages 391-401, October.
  5. Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2010. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4vm5m5vr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  6. Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," Scholarly Articles 2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2008. "Supersizing Supercenters? The Impact of Wal-Mart Supercenters on Body Mass Index and Obesity," Working Papers 09-3, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics, revised 29 Jan 2009.
  8. Janet Currie & Stefano DellaVigna & Enrico Moretti & Vikram Pathania, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain," NBER Working Papers 14721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lhila, Aparna, 2011. "Does access to fast food lead to super-sized pregnant women and whopper babies?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 364-380.
  10. Richard A. Dunn, 2010. "The Effect of Fast-Food Availability on Obesity: An Analysis by Gender, Race, and Residential Location," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1149-1164.
  11. Terza, Joseph V. & Basu, Anirban & Rathouz, Paul J., 2008. "Two-stage residual inclusion estimation: Addressing endogeneity in health econometric modeling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 531-543, May.
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