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Why are women slimmer than men in developed countries?

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  • Maruyama, Shiko
  • Nakamura, Sayaka

Abstract

Women have a lower BMI than men in developed countries, yet the opposite is true in developing countries. We call this the gender BMI puzzle and investigate its underlying cause. We begin by studying time trends in Japan, where, consistent with the cross-country puzzle, the BMI of adult women has steadily decreased since the 1950s, whereas the BMI of adult men has steadily increased. We study how changes in energy intake and energy expenditure account for the over-time gender BMI puzzle using the Japanese National Nutrition Survey from 1975 to 2010, which provides nurse-measured height and weight and nutritionist-assisted food records. Because long-term data on energy expenditure do not exist, we calculate energy expenditure using a steady-state body weight model. We then conduct cross-country regression analysis to corroborate what we learn from the Japanese data.

Suggested Citation

  • Maruyama, Shiko & Nakamura, Sayaka, 2018. "Why are women slimmer than men in developed countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 1-13.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:30:y:2018:i:c:p:1-13
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2018.04.002
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    2. Archana Dang & Pushkar Maitra & Nidhiya Menon, 2018. "Labor Market Engagement and the Health of Working Adults: Evidence from India," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-305, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Dang, Archana & Maitra, Pushkar & Menon, Nidhiya, 2019. "Labor market engagement and the body mass index of working adults: Evidence from India," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 58-77.

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