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Food Prices and Body Fatness among Youths


  • Grossman, Michael

    () (CUNY Graduate Center)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    () (American University)

  • Wada, Roy

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)


In this paper, we examine the effect of food prices on clinical measures of obesity, including body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat (PBF) measures derived from bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), among youths ages 12 through 18. The empirical analyses employ data from various waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) merged with several food prices measured by county and year. This is the first study to consider clinically measured levels of body composition rather than BMI to investigate the effects of food prices on obesity among youths. We also examine whether the effects of food prices on body composition differ by gender and race/ethnicity. Our findings suggest that increases in the real price of one calorie in food for home consumption and the real price of fast-food restaurant food lead to improvements in obesity outcomes among youths. We also find that an increase in the real price of fruits and vegetables has negative consequences for these outcomes. Finally, our results indicate that measures of PBF derived from BIA and DXA are no less sensitive and in some cases more sensitive to the prices just mentioned than BMI.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossman, Michael & Tekin, Erdal & Wada, Roy, 2013. "Food Prices and Body Fatness among Youths," IZA Discussion Papers 7465, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7465

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fletcher, Jason M. & Frisvold, David E. & Tefft, Nathan, 2010. "The effects of soft drink taxes on child and adolescent consumption and weight outcomes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 967-974, December.
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    4. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "Obesity, Self-Esteem and Wages," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 349-380 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Michael Grossman & Erdal Tekin & Roy Wada, 2012. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Youth Body Composition," NBER Working Papers 18640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    9. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
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    13. M. Christopher Auld & Lisa M. Powell, 2009. "Economics of Food Energy Density and Adolescent Body Weight," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(304), pages 719-740, October.
    14. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Popick & Anthony M. Yezer, 2015. "Amenity, Diversity and Obesity: Unobserved Heretogeneity in Cities," Working Papers 2015-12, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:rre:publsh:v47:y:2017:i:3:p:309-329 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "Economic Development, Novelty Consumption, and Body Weight: Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," IZA Discussion Papers 8967, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Wada, Roy & Han, Euna & Powell, Lisa M., 2015. "Associations between soda prices and intake: Evidence from 24-h dietary recall data," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 54-60.
    6. Anthony M Yezer & Stephen J Popick, 2017. "Climate Preferences, Obesity, and Unobserved Heterogeneity in Cities," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(3), pages 309-329, Fall.
    7. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Non-separable time preferences, novelty consumption and body weight: Theory and evidence from the East German transition to capitalism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-65.
    8. Dragone, D. & Ziebarth, N.R., 2015. "Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    9. Buttet, Sebastien & Dolar, Veronika, 4. "The Price Of One Sweet Calorie," International Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics (IJFAEC), Alanya Alaaddin Keykubat University, Department of Economics and Finance, vol. 3(4).
    10. Loureiro, Maria L. & Rahmani, Djamel, 2016. "The incidence of calorie labeling on fast food choices: A comparison between stated preferences and actual choices," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 82-93.
    11. 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.

    More about this item


    food price; obesity; body fat; BMI;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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