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A macroeconomic analysis of obesity

Author

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  • Pedro Gomis-Porqueras
  • Adrian Peralta-Alva

Abstract

This paper tries to understand the underlying causes of the rapid increase in obesity rates over recent decades. In particular, we propose a dynamic general equilibrium model to derive the quantitative implications of a decline in the relative (monetary and time) cost of food prepared away from home on the caloric intake of the average American adult over the last forty years. Two channels that lower this relative cost are considered. First, productivity improvements in the production of food prepared away from home. We and that this channel is qualitatively consistent with expenditure trends in food items, but falls short of accounting for the magnitude of the observed changes. We then consider actual declines in income taxes and in the gender wage gap, which increase the cost of preparing food at home from scratch. Our model accounts for three quarters of the observed changes in calorie consumption, and is consistent with trends in aggregate food expenditures, time use, and key macroeconomic variables. Our results indicate that changes in the relative cost of food prepared away from home play an important role in our understanding of the increased weight of the American population during the last 40 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Adrian Peralta-Alva, 2008. "A macroeconomic analysis of obesity," Working Papers 2008-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2008-017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kerry Anne McGeary, 2009. "The Impact of State-Level Nutrition-Education Program Funding on BMI: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 15001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Fidel Gonzalez, 2009. "The Role Of Uncertainty On U.S. Obesity: An Application Of Control Theory," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-506, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    3. Buttet, Sebastien & Dolar, Veronika, 2015. "Toward a quantitative theory of food consumption choices and body weight," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 143-156.
    4. Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Oscar Mitnik & Adrian Peralta-Alva & Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2011. "The Effects of Female Labor Force Participation on Obesity," Working Papers 2011-16, University of Miami, Department of Economics.

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    Keywords

    Obesity;

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