Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments

53 Pages Posted: 26 May 2009 Last revised: 17 Jun 2021

See all articles by Robert Sandy

Robert Sandy

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - Department of Economics

Gilbert Liu

Indiana University - Children's Health Services Research

John R. Ottensmann

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jeffrey Wilson

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

O.T. Ford

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Date Written: May 2009

Abstract

We utilize clinical records of successive visits by children to pediatric clinics in Indianapolis to estimate the effects on their body mass of environmental changes near their homes. We compare results for fixed-residence children with those for cross-sectional data. Our environmental factors are fast food restaurants, supermarkets, parks, trails, and violent crimes, and 13 types of recreational amenities derived from the interpretation of annual aerial photographs. We looked for responses to these factors changing within buffers of 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1 mile. We found that cross-sectional estimates are quite different from the Fixed Effects estimates of the impacts of amenities locating near a child. In cross section nearby fast food restaurants were associated with higher BMI and supermarkets with lower BMI. These results were reversed in the FE estimates. The recreational amenities that appear to lower children's BMI were fitness areas, kickball diamonds, and volleyball courts. We estimated that locating these amenities near their homes could reduce the weight of an overweight eight-year old boy by 3 to 6 pounds.

Suggested Citation

Sandy, Robert and Liu, Gilbert and Ottensmann, John R. and Tchernis, Rusty and Wilson, Jeffrey and Ford, O.T., Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments (May 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14989, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1408909

Robert Sandy

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - Department of Economics ( email )

425 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5140
Germany

Gilbert Liu

Indiana University - Children's Health Services Research ( email )

410 W. 10th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

John R. Ottensmann

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Rusty Tchernis (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/~ecort

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Jeffrey Wilson

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) ( email )

1309 E. 10th St.
Indianapolis, IN 47405
United States

O.T. Ford

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) ( email )

1309 E. 10th St.
Indianapolis, IN 47405
United States

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