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Cross-Country Variation in Obesity Patterns among Older Americans and Europeans

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  • Pierre-Carl Michaud
  • Arthur van Soest
  • Tatiana Andreyeva

Abstract

While the fraction of obese people is not as large in Europe as in the United States, obesity is becoming an important issue in Europe as well. Using comparable data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the Health and Retirement Study in the U.S. (HRS), we analyze the correlates of obesity in the population ages 50 and above, focusing on measures of energy intake and expenditure as well as socio-economic status. Our main results are as follows: 1) Obesity rates differ substantially on both sides of the Atlantic and across European countries, with most of the difference coming from the right tail of the weight distribution. 2) Part of the difference in obesity prevalence between the U.S. and Europe is explained by a higher fraction of food eaten away from home and notably lower time devoted to cooking in the U.S. 3) Sedentary lifestyle or a lack of vigorous and moderate physical activity may also explain a substantial share of the cross-country differences. 4) Differential SES patterns of energy intake and expenditure across countries cannot fully account for the observed cross-country variation in the SES gradient in obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Carl Michaud & Arthur van Soest & Tatiana Andreyeva, 2007. "Cross-Country Variation in Obesity Patterns among Older Americans and Europeans," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 185, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:185
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tatiana Andreyeva & Pierre-Carl Michaud & Arthur Van Soest, 2005. "Obesity and Health in Europeans Ages 50 and Above," Working Papers WR-331, RAND Corporation.
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    Cited by:

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    2. O'Neill June E & O'Neill Dave M, 2008. "Health Status, Health Care and Inequality: Canada vs. the U.S," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-45, April.
    3. Maruyama, Shiko & Nakamura, Sayaka, 2018. "Why are women slimmer than men in developed countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 1-13.
    4. Cavaco, Sandra & Eriksson, Tor & Skalli, Ali, 2014. "Life cycle development of obesity and its determinants in six European countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 14(C), pages 62-78.
    5. Pierre-Carl Michaud & Dana Goldman & Darius Lakdawalla & Yuhui Zheng & Adam Gailey, 2009. "Understanding the Economic Consequences of Shifting Trends in Population Health," NBER Working Papers 15231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Costa-Font, Joan & Fabbri, Daniele & Gil, Joan, 2009. "Decomposing body mass index gaps between Mediterranean countries: A counterfactual quantile regression analysis," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 351-365, December.
    7. Cawley, John & Maclean, Johanna Catherine & Sikora Kessler, Asia, 2017. "Reporting error in weight and height among older adults: Implications for estimating healthcare costs," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 9(C), pages 122-144.
    8. 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.
    9. Daouli, Joan & Davillas, Apostolos & Demoussis, Michael & Giannakopoulos, Nicholas, 2013. "The determinants of body mass in Greece: Evidence from the National Health Survey," MPRA Paper 66392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Firman Witoelar & John Strauss & Bondan Sikoki, 2009. "Socioeconomic Success and Health in Later Life Evidence from the Indonesia Family Life Survey," Working Papers WR-704, RAND Corporation.
    11. Pieroni, L. & Salmasi, L., 2014. "Fast-food consumption and body weight. Evidence from the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 94-105.
    12. Pieroni, Luca & Salmasi, Luca, 2010. "Body weight and socio-economic determinants: quantile estimations from the British Household Panel Survey," ISER Working Paper Series 2010-41, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    13. Shinsuke Ikeda & Kang Myong-Il & Fumio Ohtake, 2009. "Fat Debtors: Time Discounting, Its Anomalies, and Body Mass Index," ISER Discussion Paper 0732, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    14. Anna Sanz de Galdeano, 2007. "An Economic Analysis of Obesity in Europe: Health, Medical Care and Absenteeism Costs," Working Papers 2007-38, FEDEA.
    15. Ikeda, Shinsuke & Kang, Myong-Il & Ohtake, Fumio, 2010. "Hyperbolic discounting, the sign effect, and the body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 268-284, March.
    16. Xiaoyan Li & Nicole Maestas, 2008. "Does the Rise in the Full Retirement Age Encourage Disability Benefits Applications? Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers wp198, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    17. Cavaco, Sandra & Eriksson, Tor & Skalli, Ali, 2011. "Life Cycle Development of Obesity and Its Determinants," Working Papers 11-7, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Body Mass Index; International Comparison; SHARE;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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