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Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic With Natural Experiments

Author

Listed:
  • Robert Sandy
  • Gilbert Liu
  • John Ottensmann
  • Rusty Tchernis
  • Jeffrey Wilson
  • O.T. Ford

Abstract

We utilize clinical records of successive visits by children to pediatric clinics in Indianapolis to estimate the effects on their body mass of environmental changes near their homes. We compare results for fixed-residence children with those for cross-sectional data. Our environmental factors are fast food restaurants, supermarkets, parks, trails, and violent crimes, and 13 types of recreational amenities derived from the interpretation of annual aerial photographs. We looked for responses to these factors changing within buffers of 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1 mile. We found that cross-sectional estimates are quite different from the Fixed Effects estimates of the impacts of amenities locating near a child. In cross section nearby fast food restaurants were associated with higher BMI and supermarkets with lower BMI. These results were reversed in the FE estimates. The recreational amenities that appear to lower children's BMI were fitness areas, kickball diamonds, and volleyball courts. We estimated that locating these amenities near their homes could reduce the weight of an overweight eight-year old boy by 3 to 6 pounds.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Sandy & Gilbert Liu & John Ottensmann & Rusty Tchernis & Jeffrey Wilson & O.T. Ford, 2009. "Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic With Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 14989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14989
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel L. Millimet & Rusty Tchernis & Muna Husain, 2010. "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(3).
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    8. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
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    10. Anderson, Michael L. & Matsa, David A., 2007. "Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?," CUDARE Working Papers 37652, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    11. Hogan J.W. & Tchernis R., 2004. "Bayesian Factor Analysis for Spatially Correlated Data, With Application to Summarizing Area-Level Material Deprivation From Census Data," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 314-324, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2011. "Equity in health and health care," CORE Discussion Papers 2011026, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    2. Maoyong Fan & Yanhong Jin, 2014. "Do Neighborhood Parks and Playgrounds Reduce Childhood Obesity?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(1), pages 26-42.
    3. Mouhcine Guettabi & Abdul Munasib, 2014. "Urban Sprawl, Obesogenic Environment, And Child Weight," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 378-401, June.
    4. Sandy, Robert & Tchernis, Rusty & Wilson, Jeffrey & Liu, Gilbert & Zhou, Xilin, 2013. "Effects of the built environment on childhood obesity: The case of urban recreational trails and crime," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 18-29.

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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