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Food prices and overweight patterns in Italy

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  • L. Pieroni

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  • D. Lanari
  • L. Salmasi

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the role of relative food prices in determining the recent increase in body weight in Italy. Cross-price elasticities of unhealthy and healthy foods estimated by a demand system provide a consistent framework to evaluate substitution effects, when a close association is assumed between unhealthy (healthy) foods and more (less) energy-dense foods. We used a dataset constructed from a series of cross-sections of the Italian Household Budget Survey (1997–2005) to obtain the variables of the demand system, which accounts for regional price variability. The relative increase in healthy food prices was found to produce nontrivial elasticities of substitution towards higher relative consumption of unhealthy foods, with effects on weight outcomes. In addition, these changes were unevenly distributed among individuals and were particularly significant for those who were poorer and had less education. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

Suggested Citation

  • L. Pieroni & D. Lanari & L. Salmasi, 2013. "Food prices and overweight patterns in Italy," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(1), pages 133-151, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:eujhec:v:14:y:2013:i:1:p:133-151
    DOI: 10.1007/s10198-011-0350-y
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    Citations

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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. Rafael Moreira Claro & Vargas Hernandez & Joel Alberto & Satoru Shimokawa & Euna Han & Sharada Keats & Steve Wiggins, 2015. "The Rising Cost of a Healthy Diet – Changing Relative prices of Foods in High- Income and Emerging Economies," Working Papers id:7250, eSocialSciences.
    3. Papoutsi, Georgia & Nayga, Rodolfo & Lazaridis, Panagiotis & Drichoutis, Andreas, 2013. "Nudging parental health behavior with and without children's pestering power: Fat tax, subsidy or both?," MPRA Paper 52324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. d'Agostino, Giorgio & Scarlato, Margherita & Napolitano, Silvia, 2016. "Do Cash Transfers Promote Food Security? The Case of the South African Child Support Grant," MPRA Paper 69177, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. L. Pieroni & L. Salmasi, 2015. "Does Cigarette Smoking Affect Body Weight? Causal Estimates from the Clean Indoor Air Law Discontinuity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82(328), pages 671-704, October.
    6. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household survey data; Healthy and unhealthy foods; Overweight and obesity; Elasticity of substitution; D12; I10; I18;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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