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Food Prices and Body Fatness among Youths

  • Michael Grossman
  • Erdal Tekin
  • Roy Wada

In this paper, we examine the effect of food prices on clinical measures of obesity, including body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat (PBF) measures derived from bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), among youths ages 12 through 18. The empirical analyses employ data from various waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) merged with several food prices measured by county and year. This is the first study to consider clinically measured levels of body composition rather than BMI to investigate the effects of food prices on obesity among youths. We also examine whether the effects of food prices on body composition differ by gender and race/ethnicity. Our findings suggest that increases in the real price of one calorie in food for home consumption and the real price of fast-food restaurant food lead to improvements in obesity outcomes among youths. We also find that an increase in the real price of fruits and vegetables has negative consequences for these outcomes. Finally, our results indicate that measures of PBF derived from BIA and DXA are no less sensitive and in some cases more sensitive to the prices just mentioned than BMI.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19143.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Publication status: published as Grossman, Michael & Tekin, Erdal & Wada, Roy, 2014. "Food prices and body fatness among youths," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 4-19.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19143
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  1. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Roy Wada & Erdal Tekin, 2007. "Body Composition and Wages," NBER Working Papers 13595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael Grossman & Erdal Tekin & Roy Wada, 2012. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Youth Body Composition," NBER Working Papers 18640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Fletcher, Jason M. & Frisvold, David E. & Tefft, Nathan, 2010. "The effects of soft drink taxes on child and adolescent consumption and weight outcomes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 967-974, December.
  6. Gabriella Conti & James J. Heckman, 2012. "The Economics of Child Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 18466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-58, August.
  8. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2005. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," NBER Working Papers 11584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. M. Christopher Auld & Lisa M. Powell, 2009. "Economics of Food Energy Density and Adolescent Body Weight," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(304), pages 719-740, October.
  11. repec:mpr:mprres:4231 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  13. Powell, Lisa M., 2009. "Fast food costs and adolescent body mass index: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 963-970, September.
  14. Johansson, Edvard & Böckerman, Petri & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2009. "Obesity and labour market success in Finland: The difference between having a high BMI and being fat," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 36-45, March.
  15. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "Obesity, Self-Esteem and Wages," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 349-380 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Lee, Helen, 2012. "The role of local food availability in explaining obesity risk among young school-aged children," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(8), pages 1193-1203.
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