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Macronutrients and obesity: Revisiting the calories in, calories out framework

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  • Riera-Crichton, Daniel
  • Tefft, Nathan

Abstract

Recent clinical research has studied weight responses to varying diet composition, but the contribution of changes in macronutrient intake and physical activity to rising population weight remains controversial. Research on the economics of obesity typically assumes a “calories in, calories out” framework, but a weight production model separating caloric intake into carbohydrates, fat, and protein, has not been explored in an economic framework. To estimate the contributions of changes in macronutrient intake and physical activity to changes in population weight, we conducted dynamic time series and structural VAR analyses of U.S. data between 1974 and 2006 and a panel analysis of 164 countries between 2001 and 2010. Findings from all analyses suggest that increases in carbohydrates are most strongly and positively associated with increases in obesity prevalence even when controlling for changes in total caloric intake and occupation-related physical activity. Our structural VAR results suggest that, on the margin, a 1% increase in carbohydrates intake yields a 1.01 point increase in obesity prevalence over 5 years while an equal percent increase in fat intake decreases obesity prevalence by 0.24 points.

Suggested Citation

  • Riera-Crichton, Daniel & Tefft, Nathan, 2014. "Macronutrients and obesity: Revisiting the calories in, calories out framework," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 33-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:14:y:2014:i:c:p:33-49
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2014.04.002
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    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:31:y:2018:i:c:p:259-275 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Trinh Thi, Huong & Simioni, Michel & Thomas-Agnan, Christine, 2018. "Decomposition of changes in the consumption of macronutrients in Vietnam between 2004 and 2014," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 259-275.
    3. Scott Alan Carson, 2016. "Nineteenth Century Black and Mixed-Race Physical Activity, Calories, and Life Expectancy: Nutrition, Sanitation, or Medical Intervention?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 43(3), pages 363-385, December.
    4. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:112-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:51-60 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Macronutrients; Health production;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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