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A Macroeconomic Analysis of Obesity in the U.S


  • Pere Gomis-Porqueras

    () (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Adrian Peralta-Alva

    () (Department of Economics, University of Miami)


We perform a dynamic general equilibrium analysis of the observed increase in the average weight of American adults during the last 40 years. Data suggests that this increase in weight can be attributed to a dramatic rise in the consumption of foods prepared away from home, which resulted in higher caloric intake. We study the quantitative implications of two different hypotheses that may help explain the increased consumption of foods prepared away from home: technological advancements in the production of processed food that lowered its price, and higher opportunity cost of cooking at home driven by lower taxes and gender wage gap. According to our model, actual trends in the gender wage gap and income taxes alone can account for almost all of the observed changes in calorie consumption, expenditure in food away from home, ingredients for cooking at home, consumption of non-food items, investment, and GDP. When taxes and the gender wage gap are held constant, technological advancements in the production of foods prepared away from home can only account for half of the food expenditure patterns in the data, and deliver counterfactual implications for key macroeconomic variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Pere Gomis-Porqueras & Adrian Peralta-Alva, 2005. "A Macroeconomic Analysis of Obesity in the U.S," Working Papers 0606, University of Miami, Department of Economics, revised 30 Aug 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:0606

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Larry E. JONES & Rodolfo E. MANUELLI & Ellen R. McGRATTAN, 2015. "Why Are Married Women Working so much ?," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 75-114, March.
    2. Patrick J. Byrne & Oral Capps & Atanu Saha, 1996. "Analysis of Food-Away-from-Home Expenditure Patterns for U.S. Households, 1982–89," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 614-627.
    3. Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," CSEF Working Papers 143, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Anderson, Patricia M. & Butcher, Kristin F. & Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Maternal employment and overweight children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 477-504, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Fidel Gonzalez, 2009. "The Role Of Uncertainty On U.S. Obesity: An Application Of Control Theory," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-506, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.

    More about this item


    Taxes; Gender Wage Gap; Female Labor Participation; Obesity.;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment


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