The Effect of Air Pollution on Body Weight and Obesity: Evidence from China
52 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 9, 2019
We provide the first study on estimating the causal effect of air pollution on body weight. Using the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), which provided detailed longitudinal health and socioeconomic information for 13,226 adult individuals over 1989-2011, we find significantly positive effect of air pollution, instrumented by thermal inversions, on body mass index (BMI). Specifically, a 1 µg/m3 (1.59%) increase in average PM2.5 concentrations in the past 12 months increases the BMI by 0.31%, and further increases the overweight and obesity rates by 0.89 and 0.19 percentage points respectively. Our paper identifies a new cause of obesity, and shed light on the morbidity cost of air pollution.
Keywords: Weight gain, obesity, air pollution, China
JEL Classification: I12, I15, Q53
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