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Information, Choice, and Obesity: Measuring the Impact of the New York City Calorie Labeling Mandate on Obesity

Listed author(s):
  • Rodrigo Aranda Balcazar


    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Michael Darden


    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Donald Rose


    (School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University)

The New York City Calorie Labeling Mandate of 2008 required fast food restaurants to post calorie information for all standardized items. We estimate the impact of the mandate on the rate of obesity using data from the Selected Metropolitan/Metropolitan Area Risk Trends of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (SMART-BRFSS) from 2004 to 2010. We show that the mandate plausibly reduced the obesity rate by 2.5 percentage points - a 12% decline. Our results are robust to a variety of sensitivity checks and strengthened by various placebo tests. Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the American Time Use Survey, we show that our obesity result was not driven by changes in fast food frequency or expenditure but may have been driven by a large increase in the extensive margin of physical activity.

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File Function: First Version, August 2016
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Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1611.

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Date of creation: Aug 2016
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1611
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  1. Ehsan Latif, 2014. "The Impact Of Macroeconomic Conditions On Obesity In Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 751-759, June.
  2. Emily Yucai Wang, 2015. "The impact of soda taxes on consumer welfare: implications of storability and taste heterogeneity," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 409-441, June.
  3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2010.191908_4 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
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