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Life Cycle Development of Obesity and Its Determinants

  • Cavaco, Sandra


  • Eriksson, Tor


    (Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business)

  • Skalli, Ali


This paper is concerned with how obesity and some of its determinants develop over individuals’ life cycles. In particular we examine empirically the role and relative importance of early life conditions (parents’ education and socioeconomic status) and individuals’ own education as adults and how their impacts on the probability of overweight and obesity evolves over the life cycle. As the data set includes information about the individuals’ health behaviours (smoking and physical exercise) at various ages we can also examine the impact of these at different stages of the persons’ life cycle. The data used in the empirical analysis is from a common detailed questionnaire study carried out in six different European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands and the U.K.) and which was answered by about 6,000 individuals aged 50 to 65 at the time of the survey. Obesity indicators are constructed from information collected in the survey regarding individuals’ height and weight at different ages (25, 25, 45 and current age). We perform two types of econometric analyses on data for all countries: a “repeated cross-sections” analysis where each cross-section refers to the individual’s situation at a certain age and a random effects dynamic probit analysis of the individuals’ obesity histories. Key findings are: (i) controlling for parental and childhood factors, health behaviour and socioeconomic status affect country differences in overweight and obesity only marginally, (ii) parents’ socioeconomic status predicts obesity in early adulthood whereas individuals’ own socioeconomic status as adults is more important in explaining obesity at later stages of the life cycle, and (iii) changes in obesity status are associated with changes in health behaviours

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Paper provided by University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 11-7.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:aareco:2011_007
Contact details of provider: Postal: The Aarhus School of Business, Prismet, Silkeborgvej 2, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
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  1. Melayne M. McInnes & Judith A. Shinogle, 2011. "Physical Activity: Economic and Policy Factors," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 249-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Robert Kaestner & Michael Grossman & Benjamin Yarnoff, 2011. "Effects of Weight on Adolescent Educational Attainment," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 283-313 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. David Bloom & David Canning, 2003. "Health as Human Capital and its Impact on Economic Performance," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 28(2), pages 304-315, April.
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