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The big picture: Obesity, consumption, and food production


  • Robert C. Johansson

    (Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M Street NW, S-4195, Washington, DC 20036-5831;

  • Lisa Mancino

    (Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M Street NW, S-4195, Washington, DC 20036-5831;

  • Joseph Cooper

    (Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M Street NW, S-4195, Washington, DC 20036-5831;


Reducing the percentage of Americans who are either overweight or obese to meet public health objectives may influence agricultural production. The authors' results show that reducing aggregate consumption by 6% to meet public health objectives with no increase in overall physical activity could reduce production of agricultural commodities and reduce net returns to producers by $3.5 billion. However, if consumption is reduced by 2% concomitantly with a marginal increase in physical activity, similar health outcomes could be achieved at much less cost ($1.3 billion). Conversely, continuing obesity trends may enhance returns to agricultural production by $1.3 billion annually. Changes in agricultural activities would likely be variable across the landscape. Results indicate that the largest potential changes in agricultural producer net returns (positive or negative) would occur in the Corn Belt and the Lake States. There, crop acreage could fall by as much as 650,000 hectares. [EconLit citations: Q130, Q180] © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Agribusiness 22: 491-503, 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Johansson & Lisa Mancino & Joseph Cooper, 2006. "The big picture: Obesity, consumption, and food production," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 491-503.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:agribz:v:22:y:2006:i:4:p:491-503
    DOI: 10.1002/agr.20099

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Westcott, Paul C. & Young, C. Edwin & Price, J. Michael, 2002. "The 2002 Farm Act: Provisions And Implications For Commodity Markets," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33745, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    2. McNamara, Paul E. & Ranney, Christine K. & Kantor, Linda Scott & Krebs-Smith, Susan M., 1999. "The gap between food intakes and the Pyramid recommendations: measurement and food system ramifications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 117-133, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alston, Julian M. & Mullally, Conner C. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Townsend, Marilyn & Vosti, Stephen A., 2009. "Likely effects on obesity from proposed changes to the US food stamp program," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 176-184, April.

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