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Economic factors affecting obesity: an application in Italy

  • Cavaliere, Alessia
  • Banterle, Alessandro

The World Health Organization has stated that obesity is spreading around the world like a “global epidemic”. In 2004 the percentage of obese people in the Italian population was 9%, but the trend s increasing in recent years. Focusing on this country, the purpose of the paper is to analyze the socio-economic variables affecting obesity by means of a survey conducted in a consumer sample. Our analysis is based on a survey conducted in Italy, and the sample was composed of 999 consumers. We used a binary logit model and the dependent variable is body mass index (BMI), expressed in a dichotomic way (seriously overweight and obese, value 1, and normal weight, value 0). The results show that the condition of the seriously overweight and obese increases with age, especially in people over 65 of age. Also gender is correlated with the pathology: being seriously overweight and obese is far more likely for men than for women. An inverse relation was shown between obesity and education, and between obesity and the level of food knowledge. The results highlight that disadvantaged social categories are more susceptible to the problem of overweight and obesity. A policy implication of the analysis, to limit the spread of obesity, could lie in programs aimed at improving health and food awareness and focused on these minority groups.

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Paper provided by European Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium with number 44324.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ags:eaae08:44324
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  1. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Miljkovic, Dragan & Nganje, William & de Chastenet, Helene, 2008. "Economic factors affecting the increase in obesity in the United States: Differential response to price," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 48-60, February.
  3. Maria L. Loureiro & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2005. "International Dimensions of Obesity and Overweight Related Problems: An Economics Perspective," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1147-1153.
  4. Runge, C. Ford, 2007. "The Economic Consequences of the Obese," Working Papers 7261, University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
  5. Jayachandran N. Variyam & John Cawley, 2006. "Nutrition Labels and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kuchler, Fred & Golan, Elise H., 2004. "Is There a Role for Government in Reducing the Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity?," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 19(3).
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