Child Care Choices, Food Choices, and Children’s Obesity Status
We evaluate the effect of differences in child care and food environments on obesity among children in the age group of four to six years. To address non-random selection of children into different child care settings, we first predict market price of child care and market wages, and then examine how these affect choice of child care settings and the amount of time children spend in different settings. Using panel data models, we analyze the role of care settings on frequency of consumption of different types of food items, such as soda, fast food, fruits, vegetables, and juice. Finally, we analyze the effect of food choices on obesity status, with and without controlling for child care environment. We analyze two types of households – single mother households and two-parent households. We find some notable differences in consumption of different types of high-calorie and low-calorie food items across different care settings. Further, higher consumptions of soda and fast food are associated with higher obesity rates among children in single mother households, while higher consumption of 100% juice is associated with higher rates of obesity and higher consumption of vegetables is associated with lower likelihood of obesity among children in two-parent households.
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