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Explaining the Female Black-White Obesity Gap: A Decomposition Analysis of Proximal Causes

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  • Johnston, David W.

    (Monash University)

  • Lee, Wang-Sheng

    (Monash University)

Abstract

There exists remarkably large differences in body weights and obesity prevalence between black and white women in the US, and crucially these differences are a significant contributor to black-white inequalities in health. In this paper, we investigate the most proximal explanations for the weight gap, namely differences in diet and exercise. More specifically, we decompose black-white differences in body mass index and waist-to-height ratio into components reflecting black-white differences in energy intake and energy expenditure. The analysis indicates that over consumption is much more important than a lack of exercise in explaining the weight gap, which suggests that diet interventions will have to play a fundamental role if the weight gap between black and white women is to decline.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnston, David W. & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Explaining the Female Black-White Obesity Gap: A Decomposition Analysis of Proximal Causes," IZA Discussion Papers 5841, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5841
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    Cited by:

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    2. Dang, Rui, 2015. "Explaining the body mass index gaps between Turkish immigrants and Germans in West Germany 2002-2012: A decomposition analysis of socio-economic causes," Ruhr Economic Papers 580, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2016. "Black–White Marital Matching: Race, Anthropometrics, And Socioeconomics," Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(4), pages 399-421, December.
    4. Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Reisch, Lucia A. & Ahrens, Wolfgang & Eiben, Gabriele & M. Fernandéz-Alvira, Juan & Hadjigeorgiou, Charalampos & De Henauw, Stefaan & Kovács, Eva & Lauria, Fabio, 2013. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity – A European perspective," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 728-742.
    5. Gintare Mazeikaite & Cathal O’Donoghue & Denisa M. Sologon, 2021. "What Drives Cross-Country Health Inequality in the EU? Unpacking the Role of Socio-economic Factors," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 155(1), pages 117-155, May.
    6. Vincenzo Atella & Joanna Kopinska, 2014. "Body Weight, Eating Patterns, and Physical Activity: The Role of Education," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1225-1249, August.

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    Keywords

    decomposition; obesity;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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