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The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity

Author

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  • Currie, Janet
  • DellaVigna, Stefano
  • Moretti, Enrico
  • Pathania, Vikram

Abstract

We investigate the health consequences of changes in the supply of fast food using the exact geographical location of fast food restaurants. Specifically, we ask how the supply of fast food affects the obesity rates of 3 million school children and the weight gain of over 1 million pregnant women. We find that among 9th grade children, a fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school is associated with at least a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. There is no discernable effect at .25 miles and at .5 miles. Among pregnant women, models with mother fixed effects indicate that a fast food restaurant within a half mile of her residence results in a 2.5 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos. The effect is larger, but less precisely estimated at .1 miles. In contrast, the presence of non-fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with obesity and weight gain. Moreover, proximity to future fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with current obesity and weight gain, conditional on current proximity to fast food. The implied effects of fast-food on caloric intake are at least one order of magnitude smaller for mothers, which suggests that they are less constrained by travel costs than school children. Our results imply that policies restricting access to fast food near schools could have significant effects on obesity among school children, but similar policies restricting the availability of fast food in residential areas are unlikely to have large effects on adults.

Suggested Citation

  • Currie, Janet & DellaVigna, Stefano & Moretti, Enrico & Pathania, Vikram, 2009. "The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity," Working Papers 47830, American Association of Wine Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aawewp:47830
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Susan E. & Florax, Raymond J.G.M. & Snyder, Samantha D., 2009. "Obesity in Urban Food Markets: Evidence from Geo-referenced Micro Data," 2009 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, 2009, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49512, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Alois Stutzer & Armando N. Meier, 2016. "Limited Self‐control, Obesity, and the Loss of Happiness," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(11), pages 1409-1424, November.
    3. Li, Shanjun & Liu, Yanyan & Zhang, Junjie, 2011. "Lose some, save some: Obesity, automobile demand, and gasoline consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 52-66, January.
    4. Richards Timothy J. & Mancino Lisa & Nganje William, 2012. "Nutrient Demand in Food Away from Home," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 1-31, April.
    5. repec:mpr:mprres:6342 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Elgar, Frank J. & Xie, Annie & Pförtner, Timo-Kolja & White, James & Pickett, Kate E., 2016. "Relative deprivation and risk factors for obesity in Canadian adolescents," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 111-118.
    7. 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.
    8. Bryan Bollinger & Phillip Leslie & Alan Sorensen, 2011. "Calorie Posting in Chain Restaurants," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 91-128, February.
    9. Van de Poel, Ellen & O'Donnell, Owen & Van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2009. "Urbanization and the spread of diseases of affluence in China," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 200-216, July.
    10. Michael L. Anderson & David A. Matsa, 2011. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 152-188, January.
    11. Bac Dorin Paul, 2014. "From Slow Food To Slow Tourism," Annals of Faculty of Economics, University of Oradea, Faculty of Economics, vol. 1(2), pages 137-144, December.
    12. Philip Gleason & Ronette Briefel & Ander Wilson & Allison Hedley Dodd, "undated". "School Meal Program Participation and Its Association with Dietary Patterns and Childhood Obesity," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c1c533c65a3d4883a9b227c21, Mathematica Policy Research.
    13. Banterle, Alessandro & Cavaliere, Alessia, 2009. "The social and economic determinants of obesity: an empirical study in Italy," 113th Seminar, September 3-6, 2009, Chania, Crete, Greece 90889, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    14. Bonanno, Alessandro & Goetz, Stephan J., 2012. "Food Store Density, Nutrition Education, Eating Habits and Obesity," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 15(4).

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    Keywords

    Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Health Economics and Policy;

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