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Over-Nutrition and Changing Health Status in High Income Countries

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  • Huffman, Wallace E.
  • Huffman, Sonya K.
  • Rickertsen, Kyrre
  • Tegene, Abebayehu

Abstract

As per capita incomes in developed countries have grown over the past three decades, over-nutrition leading to obesity and elevated health risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer has occurred. We use economic and econometric models to identify the impact of food prices on the aggregate demand for calories and the supply of health, as reflected in mortality rates. Our models are fitted to unique panel data for 18 developed countries over 1971-2001, a period when the relative price of food first rose and then declined steadily. Some findings, using de-trended data, are that a lower real price of food, of other purchased consumer goods and of time increase the demand for calories, one cause of energy imbalance, and the supply of mortality associated with obesity. These prices do not affect the rate of non-obesity-related mortality. Caloric intake is a normal good, contributing to energy imbalance as income increases, but higher incomes do reduce mortality risk. However, higher labor force participation rates, largely associated with rising numbers of working women, and a higher child dependency ratio lead to a higher rate of obesity-related mortality. An implication of our results is that further reductions in the price of food in developed countries can be expected to have a net negative impact on health as reflected in a higher mortality rate due to diseases that are linked to obesity-diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and most forms of cancer.
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Suggested Citation

  • Huffman, Wallace E. & Huffman, Sonya K. & Rickertsen, Kyrre & Tegene, Abebayehu, 2010. "Over-Nutrition and Changing Health Status in High Income Countries," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31492, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:31492
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    Cited by:

    1. Beghin, John C. & Jensen, Helen H., 2008. "Farm policies and added sugars in US diets," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 480-488, December.
    2. Staudigel, Matthias, 2012. "On The Application Of Household Production Theory To Health And Nutrition," 52nd Annual Conference, Stuttgart, Germany, September 26-28, 2012 137389, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    3. Staudigel, Matthias, 2011. "How (much) do food prices contribute to obesity in Russia?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 133-147, March.
    4. Huffman, Wallace E., 2011. "Household Production and the Demand for Food and Other Inputs: U.S. Evidence," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1-23, December.
    5. Huffman, Wallace, 2008. "Rising Food and Energy Prices: Projections for Labor Markets 2008-18 and Beyond," Staff General Research Papers Archive 13000, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Social Distortion in Weight Perception: A Decomposition of the Obesity Epidemic," Working Papers in Economics 639, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General

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