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Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments

  • Kapinos, Kandice A.
  • Yakusheva, Olga
  • Eisenberg, Daniel
Registered author(s):

    This study utilizes a natural experiment—conditionally random dormitory assignments of first-year US college students—to investigate the influence of obesogenic environmental factors in explaining changes in weight and exercise behavior during the 2009–2010 academic year. The design addresses potential selection biases resulting from the likelihood that individuals sort into built environments that match their preferences for exercise and healthy eating. We find some evidence that the food environment, specifically access to campus dining, significantly affected the weight of female students in our study. Females assigned to dormitories where the nearest campus dining hall was closed on the weekends gained about 1lb less over the course of the year than females assigned to dormitories near dining halls that were open 7 days a week. We also find some evidence that female who lived in close proximity to a grocery store gained less weight over the course of the year. Finally, females who lived closer to campus gym reported more frequent exercise over the course of the year. We do not find significant effects of the built environment on weight changes of males in our sample, but we are cautious to draw strong conclusions from this because the male weight change in our sample was quite small.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X13000427
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 98-109

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:12:y:2014:i:c:p:98-109
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    1. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 165-181, March.
    2. Scott E. Carrell & Mark Hoekstra & James E. West, 2010. "Is Poor Fitness Contagious? Evidence from Randomly Assigned Friends," NBER Working Papers 16518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2008. "Weight Gain in Adolescents and Their Peers," IZA Discussion Papers 3610, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    5. Cohen-Cole, Ethan & Fletcher, Jason M., 2008. "Is obesity contagious? Social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1382-1387, September.
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    11. repec:mpr:mprres:5944 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
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    15. 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.
    16. Yakusheva, Olga & Kapinos, Kandice & Weiss, Marianne, 2011. "Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 119-132, March.
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