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Does access to fast food lead to super-sized pregnant women and whopper babies?

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  • Lhila, Aparna

Abstract

Rise in the availability of fast-food restaurants has been blamed, at least partly, for the increasing obesity in the U.S. The existing studies of obesity have focused primarily on children, adolescents, and adults, and this paper extends the literature by raising a little-studied question and using nationally representative data to answer it. It examines the relationship between the supply of fast-food restaurants and weight gain of pregnant women and their newborns. I study prenatal weight gain because excessive weight gain has been linked to postpartum overweight/obesity and I study both tails of the birthweight distribution because the origin of obesity may be traced to the prenatal period and both tail outcomes have been associated with obesity later in life. I merge the 1998 and 2004 Natality Detail Files with the Area Resource File, and County Business Patterns, which provide data on the number of fast-food restaurants in the metropolitan area where the mother resides. The empirical model includes an extensive list of MSA characteristics and MSA fixed effects to control for factors that may be correlated with both health outcomes and restaurants’ location decision. Results reveal that the fast-food and weight gain relationship is robust to the inclusion of these controls but these controls greatly mitigate the fast food–infant health relationship. Greater access to fast-food restaurants is positively related to mothers’ probability of excessive weight gain but it does not share a statistically significant relationship with birthweight. These relationships hold in all the socioeconomic and demographic subgroups studied.

Suggested Citation

  • Lhila, Aparna, 2011. "Does access to fast food lead to super-sized pregnant women and whopper babies?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 364-380.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:4:p:364-380
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2011.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2018. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 85(1), pages 6-47, July.
    2. Giuntella, Osea, 2018. "Has the growth in “fast casual” Mexican restaurants impacted weight gain?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 115-124.
    3. repec:pal:palcom:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-018-0201-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cotti, Chad & Tefft, Nathan, 2013. "Fast food prices, obesity, and the minimum wage," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 134-147.
    5. Dunn, Richard A. & Sharkey, Joseph R. & Horel, Scott, 2012. "The effect of fast-food availability on fast-food consumption and obesity among rural residents: An analysis by race/ethnicity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 1-13.
    6. Karen S. Conway & Andrea K. Menclova, 2018. "You’ll Never Walk Alone – The Effects of Walkability on Pregnancy Behaviors and Outcomes," Working Papers in Economics 18/16, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    7. Zhao, Zhenxiang & Kaestner, Robert & Xu, Xin, 2014. "Spatial mobility and environmental effects on obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 128-140.
    8. Hruschka, Daniel J. & Brewis, Alexandra A., 2013. "Absolute wealth and world region strongly predict overweight among women (ages 18–49) in 360 populations across 36 developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 337-344.

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