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How the economy affects teenage weight

  • Arkes, Jeremy
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    Much research has focused on the proximate determinants of weight gain and obesity for adolescents, but not much information has emerged on identifying which adolescents might be at risk or on prevention. This research focuses on a distal determinant of teenage weight gain, namely changes in the economy, which may help identify geographical areas where adolescents may be at risk and may provide insights into the mechanisms by which adolescents gain weight. This study uses a nationally representative sample of individuals, between 15 and 18Â years old from the 1997 US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, to estimate a model with state and year fixed effects to examine how within-state changes in the unemployment rate affect four teenage weight outcomes: an age- and gender-standardized percentile in the body-mass-index distribution and indicators for being overweight, obese, and underweight. I found statistically significant estimates, indicating that females gain weight in weaker economic periods and males gain weight in stronger economic periods. Possible causes for the contrasting results across gender include, among other things, differences in the responsiveness of labor market work to the economy and differences in the types of jobs generally occupied by female and male teenagers.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277-9536(09)00187-7
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 11 (June)
    Pages: 1943-1947

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:11:p:1943-1947
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    1. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    2. John Cawley, 2000. "Body Weight and Women's Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 7841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-504, May.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    5. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Macroeconomic Conditions, Health and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 11007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
    7. Putnam, Judy & Allshouse, Jane & Kantor, Linda Scott, 2002. "U.S. Per Capita Food Supply Trends: More Calories, Refined Carbohydrates, and Fats," Food Review: The Magazine of Food Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, vol. 25(3).
    8. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2003. "Economic perspectives on childhood obesity," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 30-48.
    9. Jeremy Arkes, 2007. "Does the economy affect teenage substance use?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 19-36.
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