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Estimating Obesity Rates in Europe in the Presence of Self-Reporting Errors

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  • Donal O'Neill

    () (Department of Economics Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  • Olive Sweetman

    () (Department of Economics Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

Abstract

Reliable measures of obesity are essential in order to develop effective policies to tackle the costs of obesity. We examine what, if anything, we can learn about obesity rates using self-reported BMI once we allow for possible measurement error. Existing approaches that correct for self-reporting errors often require strong assumptions. In this paper we combine self-reported data on BMI with estimated misclassification rates obtained from auxiliary data to derive upper and lower bounds for the population obesity rate for ten European countries using minimal assumptions on the error process. For men it is possible to obtain meaningful comparisons across countries even after accounting for measurement error. In particular the self-reported data identifies a set of low obesity countries consisting of Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Portugal and a set of high obesity countries consisting of Spain and Finland. However, it is more difficult to rank countries by female obesity rates. Meaningful rankings only emerge when the misclassification rate is bounded at a level that is much lower than that observed in auxiliary data. A similar limit on misclassification rates is also needed before we can begin to observe meaningful gender differences in obesity rates within countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Donal O'Neill & Olive Sweetman, 2013. "Estimating Obesity Rates in Europe in the Presence of Self-Reporting Errors," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n236-13.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  • Handle: RePEc:may:mayecw:n236-13.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Fernihough & Mark E. McGovern, 2013. "A Tall Story: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences of Stature Loss," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp429, IIIS.
    2. Fernihough, Alan & McGovern, Mark E., 2015. "Physical stature decline and the health status of the elderly population in England," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 30-44.
    3. repec:rre:publsh:v47:y:2017:i:3:p:309-329 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. Åsa Ljungvall & Ulf Gerdtham & Ulf Lindblad, 2015. "Misreporting and misclassification: implications for socioeconomic disparities in body-mass index and obesity," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(1), pages 5-20, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Self-Reporting Errors; Bounds;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis

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