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Food Prices and Overweight Patterns in Italy

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  • Luca Pieroni
  • Donatella Lanari
  • Luca Salmasi

Abstract

In this paper we examine the role of relative food prices in determining the recent increase in body weight in Italy. Cross-price elasticities of unhealthy and healthy foods estimated by a demand system provide a consistent framework to evaluate substitution effects, when a close association is assumed between unhealthy (healthy) foods and more (less) energy-dense foods. We used a dataset constructed from a series of cross-sections of the Italian Household Budget Survey (1997-2005) to obtain the variables of the demand system, which accounts for regional price variability. The relative increase of healthy food prices was found to produce nontrivial elasticities of substitution towards higher relative consumption of unhealthy foods, with effects on weight outcomes. In addition, these changes were unevenly distributed among individuals and were particularly significant for those who were poorer and had less education.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Pieroni & Donatella Lanari & Luca Salmasi, 2010. "Food Prices and Overweight Patterns in Italy," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2010_40, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  • Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2010_40
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    2. L. Pieroni & L. Salmasi, 2015. "Does Cigarette Smoking Affect Body Weight? Causal Estimates from the Clean Indoor Air Law Discontinuity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82(328), pages 671-704, October.
    3. Giorgio d’Agostino & Margherita Scarlato & Silvia Napolitano, 2018. "Do Cash Transfers Promote Food Security? The Case of the South African Child Support Grant," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 27(4), pages 430-456.
    4. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.
    5. Pieroni, Luca & Salmasi, Luca, 2010. "Body weight and socio-economic determinants: quantile estimations from the British Household Panel Survey," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-41, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    6. Giovanni Piumatti, 2020. "Longitudinal Trends in Self-Rated Health During Times of Economic Uncertainty in Italy," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 148(2), pages 599-633, April.
    7. Costa-Font, Joan & Salmasi, Luca & Zaccagni, Sarah, 2021. "More Than a Ban on Smoking? Behavioural Spillovers of Smoking Bans in the Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 14299, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Rafael Moreira Claro & Vargas Hernandez & Joel Alberto & Satoru Shimokawa & Euna Han & Sharada Keats & Steve Wiggins, 2015. "The Rising Cost of a Healthy Diet – Changing Relative prices of Foods in High- Income and Emerging Economies," Working Papers id:7250, eSocialSciences.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household Survey Data; Healthy and Unhealthy Foods; Overweight and Obesity; Elasticity of Substitution.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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