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Does smoking affect body weight and obesity in China?

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  • Fang, Hai
  • Ali, Mir M.
  • Rizzo, John A.

Abstract

An inverse relationship between smoking and body weight has been documented in the medical literature, but the effect of cigarette smoking on obesity remains inconclusive. In addition, the evidence is mixed on whether rising obesity rates are an unintended consequence of successful anti-smoking policies. This study re-examines these relationships using data from China, the largest consumer and manufacturer of tobacco in the world that is also experiencing a steady rise in obesity rates. We focus on the impact of the total number of cigarettes smoked per day on individuals' body mass index (BMI) and on the likelihood of being overweight and obese. Instrumental variables estimation is used to correct for the endogeneity of cigarette smoking. We find a moderate negative and significant relationship between cigarette smoking and BMI. Smoking is also negatively related to being overweight and obese, but the marginal effects are small and statistically insignificant for being obese. Quantile regression analyses reveal that the association between smoking and BMI is quite weak among subjects whose BMIs are at the high end of the distribution but are considerably stronger among subjects in the healthy weight range. Ordered probit regression analyses also confirm these findings. Our results thus reconcile an inverse average effect of smoking on body weight with the absence of any significant effect on obesity. From a policy perspective these findings suggest that, while smoking cessation may lead to moderate weight gain among subjects of healthy weight, the effects on obese subjects are modest and should not be expected to lead to a large increase in obesity prevalence rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Fang, Hai & Ali, Mir M. & Rizzo, John A., 2009. "Does smoking affect body weight and obesity in China?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 334-350, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:3:p:334-350
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pieroni, Luca & Salmasi, Luca, 2010. "Body weight and socio-economic determinants: quantile estimations from the British Household Panel Survey," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-41, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Liu, Hong & Fang, Hai & Zhao, Zhong, 2013. "Urban–rural disparities of child health and nutritional status in China from 1989 to 2006," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 294-309.
    3. repec:pal:easeco:v:44:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1057_s41302-016-0071-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Wehby, George L. & Murray, Jeffrey C. & Wilcox, Allen & Lie, Rolv T., 2012. "Smoking and body weight: Evidence using genetic instruments," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 113-126.
    5. Loh, Chung-Ping A. & Li, Qiang, 2013. "Peer effects in adolescent bodyweight: Evidence from rural China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 35-44.
    6. Aliaksandr Amialchuk & Kateryna Bornukova & Mir M. Ali, 2012. "Smoking and Obesity Revisited: Evidence from Belarus," BEROC Working Paper Series 19, Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC).
    7. George L. Wehby & Kaitlin Prater & Ann Marie McCarthy & Eduardo E. Castilla & Jeffrey C. Murray, 2011. "The Impact of Maternal Smoking during Pregnancy on Early Child Neurodevelopment," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 207-254.
    8. Binkley, James K. & Pena-Levano, Luis M., 2015. "Estimating Latent Variable Models When the Latent Variable is Observable," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205659, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    9. repec:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:31-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Pieroni, Luca & Salmasi, Luca, 2016. "The effect of smoking habit changes on body weight: Evidence from the UK," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 1-13.
    11. Ali Mir M., 2012. "Social Learning Theory, Cigarette Taxes and Adolescent Smoking Behavior," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(6), pages 633-651, December.
    12. Courtemanche, Charles & Tchernis, Rusty & Ukert, Benjamin, 2018. "The effect of smoking on obesity: Evidence from a randomized trial," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 31-44.

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