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The effects of old and new media on children's weight

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  • Agne Suziedelyte

    () (The University of New South Wales)

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to determine if there is a causal relationship between children's time spent on media related activities and their weight. Since the beginning of 1980s, childhood obesity rates in the U.S. and other developed countries have been increasing. It has been suggested in the literature that changes in children's media use is an important explanation for the observed increase in children's weight. I investigate whether or not this hypothesis is supported by data. Additionally, I compare the e ects of television, or old media, with the e ects of computers and video games, or new media. The Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics is used for the analysis. To address the endogeneity of children's media use, I use the child xed e ects and correlated random effects models. I find no evidence that media use contributes to weight gain among children. On average, a one hour per week increase in a child's video game or computer time is estimated to decrease his/ her body mass index slightly and to not affect signi cantly the probability of being overweight or obese. The estimated effects of television time on weight are not significantly different from zero. These findings, especially the results related to children's computer or video game time, are robust to a number of sensitivity checks. Additionally, there is heterogeneity in the effects of media time by child and family characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Agne Suziedelyte, 2012. "The effects of old and new media on children's weight," Discussion Papers 2012-37, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  • Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2012-38
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    File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2012-38.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hung-Hao Chang & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2009. "Television Viewing, Fast-Food Consumption, And Children'S Obesity," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(3), pages 293-307, July.
    2. Cawley, John & Liu, Feng, 2012. "Maternal employment and childhood obesity: A search for mechanisms in time use data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 352-364.
    3. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, January.
    4. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2008. "Maternal employment and adolescent development," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 958-983, October.
    5. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    6. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Diane Whitemore Schanzenbach, 2007. "Childhood Disadvantage and Obesity: Is Nurture Trumping Nature?," NBER Chapters,in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 149-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2009. "The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: inspecting the mechanisms," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-255, September.
    8. Andreyeva, Tatiana & Kelly, Inas Rashad & Harris, Jennifer L., 2011. "Exposure to food advertising on television: Associations with children's fast food and soft drink consumption and obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 221-233, July.
    9. Baum II, Charles L. & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2009. "Age, socioeconomic status and obesity growth," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 635-648, May.
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    Keywords

    obesity; body weight; media use; time use; children;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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