The Effects of Relative Food Prices on Obesity -- Evidence from China: 1991-2006

40 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2010 Last revised: 20 Feb 2010

See all articles by Yang Lu

Yang Lu

University of Southern California; RAND Corporation

Dana P. Goldman

RAND Corporation; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2010

Abstract

This paper explores the effects of relative food prices on body weight and body fat over time in China. We study a cohort of 15,000 adults from over 200 communities in China, using the longitudinal China Health and Nutrition Survey (1991-2006). While we find that decreases in the price of energy-dense foods have consistently led to elevated body fat, this price effect does not always hold for body weight. These findings suggest that changes in food consumption patterns induced by varying food prices can increase percentage body fat to risky levels even without substantial weight gain. In addition, food prices and subsidies could be used to encourage healthier food consumption patterns and to curb obesity.

Suggested Citation

Lu, Yang and Goldman, Dana P., The Effects of Relative Food Prices on Obesity -- Evidence from China: 1991-2006 (February 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15720. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1548778

Yang Lu

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Dana P. Goldman

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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