The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain

43 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2009 Last revised: 28 Apr 2015

Janet Currie

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Princeton University

Stefano DellaVigna

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Vikram Pathania

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2009

Abstract

We investigate the health consequences of changes in the supply of fast food using the exact geographical location of fast food restaurants. Specifically, we ask how the supply of fast food affects the obesity rates of 3 million school children and the weight gain of over 3 million pregnant women. We find that among 9th grade children, a fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school is associated with at least a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. There is no discernable effect at .25 miles and at .5 miles. Among pregnant women, models with mother fixed effects indicate that a fast food restaurant within a half mile of her residence results in a 1.6 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos, with a larger effect at .1 miles. The effect is significantly larger for African-American and less educated women. For both school children and mothers, the presence of non-fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with weight outcomes. Moreover, proximity to future fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with current obesity and weight gain, conditional on current proximity to fast food. The implied effects of fast-food on caloric intake are at least one order of magnitude larger for students than for mothers, consistent with smaller travel cost for adults.

Suggested Citation

Currie, Janet and DellaVigna, Stefano and Moretti, Enrico and Pathania, Vikram, The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain (February 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14721. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1344701

Janet Currie (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
6092587393 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie

Stefano DellaVigna

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Economics Department
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-0715 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/sdellavi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/~moretti/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Vikram Pathania

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

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