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Do Neighborhood Parks And Playgrounds Reduce Childhood Obesity?


  • Fan, Maoyong
  • Jin, Yanhong H.


Promoting physical activity in children is an important front battling Childhood obesity. This paper investigates if and by how much neighborhood parks and playgrounds, one of the most important activity-enhancing neighborhood facilities, affect childhood obesity. We employ a covariate matching technique to analyze the 2007 National Survey of Children Health data. We find that neighborhood parks and playgrounds make children more fit. The reduction in body mass index (BMI) as well as the overweight or obesity risk is both statistically and economically significant. We also find that the park impact depends on gender, age, race, income, neighborhood safety, and other neighborhood amenities. The results suggest that a provision of neighborhood parks and playgrounds is likely to make children more fit, but relevant interventions need to take socioeconomic status of the targeted children population as well as other neighborhood amenities into consideration.

Suggested Citation

  • Fan, Maoyong & Jin, Yanhong H., 2012. "Do Neighborhood Parks And Playgrounds Reduce Childhood Obesity?," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123421, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:123421

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-620, September.
    2. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, January.
    3. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    4. Abadie, Alberto & Imbens, Guido W., 2011. "Bias-Corrected Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-11.
    5. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    6. Robert Sandy & Gilbert Liu & John Ottensmann & Rusty Tchernis & Jeff Wilson & O. T. Ford, 2011. "Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 181-221 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Melayne M. McInnes & Judith A. Shinogle, 2011. "Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 249-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The fight against obesity: more city parks, please
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-06-26 19:26:00
    2. [社会][経済]生きる
      by himaginary in himaginaryの日記 on 2012-06-27 12:00:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Maoyong Fan & Yanhong Jin, 2015. "Singleton status and childhood obesity: Investigating effects and mechanisms Status :," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(4), pages 2126-2140.

    More about this item


    CHILDHOOD OBESITY; NEIGHBORHOOD AMENITY; PARK/PLAYGROUND; MATCHING; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy; I18 I38 R53;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • R53 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Public Facility Location Analysis; Public Investment and Capital Stock

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