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Obesity and Price Sensitivity at the Supermarket


  • Gandal, Neil
  • Shabelansky, Anastasia


In this paper, we employ a rich data set at the individual level in order to examine which factors are most highly correlated with obesity. Our main result is that, even after controlling for income levels and other factors, we find that high 'price-sensitivity' for food products is associated with high obesity rates. We find that a woman who stated that prices were 'not important at all' when purchasing food products had a Body Mass Index (BMI) that was 1.3 units below those who stated that price was 'very important.' This suggests that the price effect is not trivial and obesity is a problem that is not limited to those with low income levels. A 1.3 unit reduction in the BMI would move approximately 28% of women who are in the 'overweight' category to the 'normal weight' category and 25% of women who are in the 'obese' category to the 'overweight' category.

Suggested Citation

  • Gandal, Neil & Shabelansky, Anastasia, 2009. "Obesity and Price Sensitivity at the Supermarket," CEPR Discussion Papers 7443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7443

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    2. 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.
    3. Baum II, Charles L. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2009. "Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 635-648, May.
    4. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    5. Geir Wæhler Gustavsen & Kyrre Rickertsen, 2009. "The effects of taxes on purchases of sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drinks: a quantile regression approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 707-716.
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    Cited by:

    1. Okrent, Abigail & Sweitzer, Megan, 2016. "Obesity as a Modifier of Price Sensitivity in the United States," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236251, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Paul W. Dobson & Eitan Gerstner, 2010. "For a Few Cents More: Why Supersize Unhealthy Food?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 770-778, 07-08.
    3. Dobson, Paul W. & Chakraborty, Ratula & Seaton, Jonathan S., 2017. "Containing big soda: Countering inducements to buy large-size sugary drinks," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 185-191.

    More about this item


    Obesity; Price Sensitivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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