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Body Mass Index and the Measurement of Obesity

  • David Madden

This paper proposes a new method of measuring obesity using Body Mass Index (BMI) data. Conventional measures which simply count the number of individuals with BMI in excess of an upper limit ignore the extent by which individuals exceed BMI limits and also the increased risk ratios for various conditions associated very high levels of BMI. This paper suggests that measures currently used in the poverty literature can be usefully applied to measure obesity and provide us with measures which may be more relevant from a policy perspective. The approach is applied to data for Ireland.

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Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 06/11.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:06/11
Contact details of provider: Postal: HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
Phone: (0)1904 323776
Fax: (0)1904 323759
Web page: http://www.york.ac.uk/economics/postgrad/herc/hedg/
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  1. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  2. Nolan, Brian & Gannon, Brenda & Layte, Richard & Watson, Dorothy & Whelan, Christopher T. & Williams, James, 2002. "Monitoring Poverty Trends in Ireland: Results from the 2000 Living in Ireland survey," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS45.
  3. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-31, March.
  4. Anna Sanz De Galdeano, 2005. "The Obesity Epidemic in Europe," CSEF Working Papers 143, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  5. 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.
  6. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  7. Madden, D. & Smith, F., 2000. "Poverty in Ireland, 1987-1994: a Stochastic Dominance Approach," Papers 00/13, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  8. Bleichrodt, Han & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2006. "A welfare economics foundation for health inequality measurement," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 945-957, September.
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