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The Transition to Post-industrial BMI Values Among US Children

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  • John Komlos
  • Ariane Breitfelder
  • Marco Sunder

Abstract

In our opinion, the trend in the BMI values of US children has not been estimated accurately. We use five models to estimate the BMI trends of non-Hispanic US-born black and white children and adolescents ages 2-19 born 1941-2006 on the basis of all NHES and NHANES data sets. We also use some historical BMI values for comparison. The increase in BMIZ values during the period considered was on average 1.3`sigma` (95% CI: 1.16`sigma`; 1.44`sigma`) among black girls, 0.8`sigma` for black boys, 0.7`sigma` for white boys, and 0.6`sigma` for white girls. This translates into an increase in BMI values of some 5.6, 3.3, 2.4, and 1.5 units respectively. While the increase in BMI values started among the birth cohorts of the 1940s among black females, the rate of increase tended to accelerate among all four groups born in the mid-1950s to early-1960s with the contemporaneous spread of TV viewing. The rate of increase levelled off somewhat thereafter. There is some indication that among black boys and white girls born after c. 1990 adiposity has remained unchanged or perhaps even declined. The affects of the IT revolution of the last two decades of the century is less evident. Some regional evidence leads to the speculation that the spread of automobiles and radios affected the BMI values of boys already in the interwar period. We infer that the incremental weight increases are associated with the labor-saving technological developments of the 20th century which brought about many faceted cultural and nutritional revolutions.

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  • John Komlos & Ariane Breitfelder & Marco Sunder, 2008. "The Transition to Post-industrial BMI Values Among US Children," NBER Working Papers 13898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13898
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    7. Carson, Scott Alan, 2009. "Racial differences in body mass indices of men imprisoned in 19th Century Texas," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 121-127, March.
    8. Julianne Treme & Lee A. Craig, 2013. "Urbanization, Health And Human Stature," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65, pages 130-141, May.
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    11. Valeggia, Claudia R. & Burke, Kevin M. & Fernandez-Duque, Eduardo, 2010. "Nutritional status and socioeconomic change among Toba and Wichí populations of the Argentinean Chaco," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 100-110, March.
    12. Barone, Adriana & O'Higgins, Niall, 2010. "Fat and out in Salerno and its province: Adolescent obesity and early school leaving in Southern Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 44-57, March.
    13. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2009. "The growth of obesity and technological change," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 283-293, December.
    14. Komlos, John & Brabec, Marek, 2011. "The trend of BMI values of US adults by deciles, birth cohorts 1882-1986 stratified by gender and ethnicity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 234-250, July.
    15. 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.
    16. Karina Acosta, 2012. "La obesidad y su concentración según nivel socioeconómico en Colombia," Revista de Economía del Rosario, Universidad del Rosario, July.
    17. Stifel, David C. & Averett, Susan L., 2009. "Childhood overweight in the United States: A quantile regression approach," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 387-397, December.
    18. John Komlos & Marek Brabec, 2010. "The Trend of Mean BMI Values of US Adults, Birth Cohorts 1882-1986 Indicates that the Obesity Epidemic Began Earlier than Hitherto Thought," NBER Working Papers 15862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Simeonova, Emilia & Copeland, William & Angold, Adrian & Costello, Jane E., 2010. "Does More Money Make You Fat? The Effects of Quasi-Experimental Income Transfers on Adolescent and Young Adult Obesity," IZA Discussion Papers 5135, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. John Komlos & Marek Brabec, 2010. "The Trend of BMI Values among US Adults," CESifo Working Paper Series 2987, CESifo.
    21. Hiermeyer, Martin, 2009. "Height and BMI values of German conscripts in 2000, 2001 and 1906," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 366-375, December.
    22. Andreas Beyerlein & André M Toschke & Angelika Schaffrath Rosario & Rüdiger von Kries, 2011. "Risk Factors for Obesity: Further Evidence for Stronger Effects on Overweight Children and Adolescents Compared to Normal-Weight Subjects," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(1), pages 1-7, January.
    23. Hiermeyer, Martin, 2010. "The height and BMI values of West Point cadets after the Civil War," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 127-133, March.

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