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Does Where You Live Make You Fat? Obesity and Access to Chain Grocers


  • Susan Chen


  • Raymond J.G.M. Florax


  • Samantha Snyder

    () (Purdue University,Dept. of Agricultural Economics)


This paper investigates the role that aspects of the physical environment play in determining health outcomes in adults as measured by body mass index (BMI). Using spatial econometric techniques that allow for spatial spillovers and feedback processes, this research specifically examines how differing levels of access to large chain grocers has on individual health outcomes. While other studies have investigated the impact of proximity to food retailers, the pointcoordinate data used in this paper is uniquely suited to spatial econometric estimation at the individual level. In addition to modeling spatial dependence and allowing for unobserved neighborhood effects, the flexibility of the model is increased by incorporating potential spatial heterogeneity between wealthier and lower-income neighborhoods. Using survey responses tied to geographic location, demographic, behavioral, and access to chain grocers, this study finds evidence of spatial dependence pointing to locational impacts on BMI. The effect on individual health outcomes of retailer access improvements varies depending on neighborhood characteristics. Our findings suggest structural differences in the variation and sensitivity of BMI dependent jointly on individual and neighborhood characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Chen & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Samantha Snyder, 2009. "Does Where You Live Make You Fat? Obesity and Access to Chain Grocers," Working Papers 09-11, Purdue University, College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pae:wpaper:09-11

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrews, Margaret S. & Bhatta, Rhea & Ver Ploeg, Michele, 2012. "Did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Increase in SNAP Benefits Reduce the Impact of Food Deserts?," 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA 123520, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Wilde, Parke & Llobrera, Joseph & Ver Ploeg, Michele, 2014. "Population Density, Poverty, and Food Retail Access in the United States: An Empirical Approach," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 17(A).

    More about this item


    body mass index; obesity; spatial dependence; obesogenic environments;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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