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The effect of physical activity on adult obesity: Evidence from the Canadian NPHS panel

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  • Sarma, Sisira
  • Zaric, Gregory S.
  • Campbell, M. Karen
  • Gilliland, Jason

Abstract

Although physical activity has been considered as an important modifiable risk factor for obesity, the empirical evidence on the relationship between physical activity and obesity is mixed. Observational studies in the public health literature fail to account for time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity and dynamics of weight, leading to biased estimation of the effect of physical activity on obesity. To overcome this limitation, we propose dynamic fixed-effects models to account for unobserved heterogeneity bias and the dynamics of obesity. We use nationally representative longitudinal data on the cohort of adults aged 18–50 years in 1994/95 from Canada's National Population Health Survey and followed them over 16 years. Obesity is measured by BMI (body mass index). After controlling for a wide range of socio-economic factors, the impact of four alternative measures of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and work-related physical activity (WRPA) are analyzed. The results show that each measure of LTPA exerts a negative effect on BMI and the effects are larger for females. Our key results show that participation in LTPA exceeding 1.5kcal/kg per day (i.e., at least 30min of walking) reduces BMI by about 0.11–0.14 points in males and 0.20 points in females relative to physically inactive counterparts. Compared to those who are inactive at workplace, being able to stand or walk at work is associated with a reduction in BMI in the range of 0.16–0.19 points in males and 0.24–0.28 points in females. Lifting loads at workplace is associated with a reduction in BMI by 0.2–0.3 points in males and 0.3–0.4 points in females relative to those who are reported sedentary. Policies aimed at promotion of LTPA combined with WRPA like walking or climbing stairs daily would help reduce adult obesity risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarma, Sisira & Zaric, Gregory S. & Campbell, M. Karen & Gilliland, Jason, 2014. "The effect of physical activity on adult obesity: Evidence from the Canadian NPHS panel," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 1-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:14:y:2014:i:c:p:1-21
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.03.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "Economic Development, Novelty Consumption, and Body Weight: Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," IZA Discussion Papers 8967, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Dragone, D. & Ziebarth, N.R., 2015. "Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Non-separable time preferences, novelty consumption and body weight: Theory and evidence from the East German transition to capitalism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-65.
    4. Koffi-Ahoto Kpelitse & Rose Anne Devlin & Sisira Sarma, 2014. "The Effect of Income on Obesity among Canadian Adults," Working Papers 14C002, Canadian Centre for Health Economics.
    5. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:112-125 is not listed on IDEAS

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