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Long-run overweight levels and convergence in body mass index

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  • Duncan, Roberto
  • Toledo, Patricia

Abstract

We evaluate the hypothesis of convergence to an optimal long-run body weight worldwide. We formulate a simple rational non-addiction eating model to derive a testable equation that allows us to verify the existence of a long-run body weight as well as its estimation. We use a database of body mass index (BMI) estimates across countries over four decades published by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. We find that BMIs converge among European countries but not in the rest of the world. Consistent with the theoretical model, our long-run estimates suggest that European nations will show an average BMI above healthy levels. In particular, females and males will show average BMIs classified as overweight levels (BMI = 28.3). Confidence intervals and sensitivity analysis suggest that males might reach long-term BMI levels associated with obesity (BMI > 30). We discuss the implications of our findings from the perspectives of health economics and economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Duncan, Roberto & Toledo, Patricia, 2018. "Long-run overweight levels and convergence in body mass index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 26-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:31:y:2018:i:c:p:26-39
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2018.06.005
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    1. repec:eee:reecon:v:72:y:2018:i:4:p:482-493 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:33:y:2019:i:c:p:40-57 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    D91; I12; I31; O47; Obesity; Overweight; Body mass index; Convergence; Rational eating model;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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