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Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity

  • Shin-Yi Chou
  • Inas Rashad
  • Michael Grossman

Childhood obesity around the world, and particularly in the United States, is an escalating problem that is especially detrimental as its effects carry on into adulthood. In this paper we employ the 1979 Child-Young Adult National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the effects of fast-food restaurant advertising on children and adolescents being overweight. The advertising measure used is the number of hours of spot television fast-food restaurant advertising messages seen per week. Our results indicate that a ban on these advertisements would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 in a fixed population by 10 percent and would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 12 percent. The elimination of the tax deductibility of this type of advertising would produce smaller declines of between 3 and 5 percent in these outcomes but would impose lower costs on children and adults who consume fast food in moderation because positive information about restaurants that supply this type of food would not be banned completely from television.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11879.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law & Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11879
Note: HE
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  1. Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave, 2006. "Alcohol advertising and alcohol consumption by adolescents," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(6), pages 617-637.
  2. 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.
  3. Henry Saffer, 1994. "Alcohol Advertising and Motor Vehicle Fatalities," NBER Working Papers 4708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Cawley & Sara Markowitz & John Tauras, 2003. "Lighting Up and Slimming Down: The Effects of Body Weight and Cigarette Prices on Adolescent Smoking Initiation," NBER Working Papers 9561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  7. Boyd, Roy & Seldon, Barry J., 1990. "The fleeting effect of advertising : Empirical evidence from a case study," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 375-379, December.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 941-64, November.
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