Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=993093
 
 

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Why is the Developed World Obese?


Sara Bleich


Harvard University

David M. Cutler


Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christopher J. Murray


Harvard University

Alyce Adams


Harvard Pilgrim Health Care


Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 29, 2008
iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper

Abstract:     
Obesity has risen dramatically in the past few decades. However, the relative contribution of energy intake and energy expenditure to rising obesity is not known. Moreover, the extent to which social and economic factors tip the energy balance is not well understood. In this longitudinal analysis of developed countries, we estimate the relative contribution of increased caloric intake and reduced physical activity to obesity using two methods of energy accounting. Results show that rising obesity is primarily the result of consuming more calories. We estimate multivariate regression models and use simulation analysis to explore technological and sociodemographic determinants of this dietary excess. Results indicate that the increase in caloric intake is associated with technological innovations such as reduced food prices as well as changing sociodemographic factors such as increased urbanization and increased female labor force participation. The study findings offer useful insights to future research concerned with the etiology of obesity and may help inform the development of obesity-related policy. In particular, our results suggest that policies to encourage less caloric intake may help reverse past trends in increased consumption.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 50

Keywords: obesity, energy intake, energy expenditure, technological innovation, sociodemographic characteristics

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Date posted: June 12, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Bleich, Sara and Cutler, David M. and Murray, Christopher J. and Adams, Alyce, Why is the Developed World Obese?. Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 29, 2008; iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=993093

Contact Information

Sara Bleich
Harvard University ( email )
1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
David M. Cutler (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )
Littauer Center, Room 315A
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-5216 (Phone)
617-495-8570 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-868-3900 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)
Christopher J. Murray
Harvard University ( email )
1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Alyce Adams
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care ( email )
93 Worcester Street
Wellesley, 02481
United States
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