Cheap Donuts and Expensive Broccoli: The Effect of Relative Prices on Obesity
Jonah B. Gelbach
University of Pennsylvania Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
December 15, 2009
In recent years, much attention has been directed at the ongoing increase in body weight, and what might be done about it. We use data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for the period 1982-1996 to estimate models relating measures of body weight (BMI, a dummy indicating that a person is overweight or obese, and a dummy indicating that a person is obese) to two food price indexes constructed using regional BLS price data as well as the official BLS food price index. The most aggressive use of our results suggests that variation in year-to-year food prices is unlikely to explain much of the increase in body weight over our sample period. This conclusion holds true regardless of the food price measure we consider.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: BMI, fat, diet, health, wild cluster bootstrap, fat tax
JEL Classification: C15, D12, H23, H51, I12, I18, K32
Date posted: April 1, 2007 ; Last revised: December 17, 2009
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