Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments
In: Economic Aspects of Obesity
We utilize clinical records of well successive child visits by the same child at clinics in Indianapolis to estimate the effects on their weights of changes in environment near their home. Our sample is limited to children who resided at the same address before and after the environmental change and in this initial investigation, are in the age range 3 through 12. Our environmental factors are fast food restaurants, supermarkets, parks, trails, and violent crimes. We looked for responses to these factors changing within buffers of 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1 mile. The strongest effects were at the closest distances. None of the factors measured within a mile circle had an effect. Fast food restaurants moving close to the childâ€™s home raised their weight. Supermarkets moving near the home lowered their weights. Additional violent crimes raised weights directly and indirectly by attenuating the weight reducing effects of parks and trails. The parks and trails are crudely measured by area and distance within the buffers. We are in the process of creating precise annual measures of three types of recreational amenities from the interpretation of aerial photographs.
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