How (much) do food prices contribute to obesity in Russia?
High BMI and obesity contribute to the Russian health crisis. Previous studies have shown that weight status varies along socioeconomic lines but remains largely unaffected by economic shocks over time. This study is the first that explicitly analyses the impact of food prices on adult BMI and obesity in the Russian Federation. Using panel data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey from 1994 to 2005, that included 10,551 urban respondents over 18 years, a reduced form weight demand function is estimated. Controlling for individual heterogeneity by a fixed-effects model, price-weight elasticities are derived. The main result is that food prices are not the essential determinants of BMI and obesity in Russia. Elasticities of BMI with respect to single food prices are low and show absolute values smaller than 0.01. However, some products like chicken meat, milk, onions and butter show significant price effects on body mass. A 20% increase in the price of chicken meat would cause a reduction in body weight of 112Â g on average. In contrast to the United States, it is mainly high-income households that show significant weight reactions to food prices in Russia. Separate regressions by gender showed significant effects of milk and butter prices on male BMI and of onion prices on female BMI. The risk of being obese is even less affected by price.
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