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Economic Growth, Lifestyle Changes, and the Coexistence of Under and Overweight in China: A Semiparametric Approach

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  • Shimokawa, Satoru
  • Pinstrup-Andersen, Per

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between changes in socioeconomic factors and the emerging coexistence of under and overweight among adults in China during 1991-2000. Our key questions are: (1) whether any socioeconomic factor explains both increasing overweight (Body Mass Index (BMI)less than or equal to 25 kg/m2) and remaining underweight (BMI greater than or equal to 18.5 kg/m2), (2) whether China's continuing economic growth leads to further increase in the prevalence of overweight, and (3) whether China's economic growth alone can lead to commensurate decrease in its remaining underweight. Based on the theoretical model in Lakdawalla and Philipson (2002), we focus on the effects of economic growth on weight through changes in income, job-related activity and food prices. We adopt a semiparametric technique and decompose changes in the BMI distribution into the effects of changes in selected socioeconomic factors. We find that changes in the pattern of job-related activity partly explain both increasing overweight and remaining underweight. Overall income growth contributes to decreasing both under and overweight. Decreasing food prices are one of main factors shifting Chinese population from underweight toward overweight. The effects of economic growth examined in this paper well-explain increasing overweight, and thus continuing economic growth is likely to lead to further increase in overweight rates. Our results also indicate that there exist unobserved factors that significantly counteract the downward effects of economic growth on underweight rates, and thus economic growth alone is unlikely to lead to commensurate decrease in remaining underweight. To reduce remaining underweight, more direct interventions (e.g., micronutrient supplementation) may be needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Shimokawa, Satoru & Pinstrup-Andersen, Per, 2006. "Economic Growth, Lifestyle Changes, and the Coexistence of Under and Overweight in China: A Semiparametric Approach," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25518, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae06:25518
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    2. Fang, Cheng & Beghin, John C., 2002. "Urban Demand for Edible Oils and Fats in China: Evidence from Household Survey Data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 732-753.
    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. Jones, Derek C. & Li, Cheng & Owen, Ann L., 2003. "Growth and regional inequality in China during the reform era," China Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 186-200.
    5. Lawrence Haddad & Harold Alderman & Simon Appleton & Lina Song & Yisehac Yohannes, 2003. "Reducing Child Malnutrition: How Far Does Income Growth Take Us?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 107-131, June.
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