An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

57 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2002 Last revised: 10 Oct 2022

See all articles by Shin-Yi Chou

Shin-Yi Chou

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

Michael Grossman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NY Office; CUNY The Graduate Center - Department of Economics

Henry Saffer

National Bureau of Economic Research

Date Written: October 2002

Abstract

Since the late 1970s, the number of obese adults in the United States has grown by over 50 percent. This paper examines the factors that may be responsible for this rapidly increasing prevalence rate. To study the determinants of adult obesity and related outcomes, we employ micro-level data from the 1984-1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. These repeated cross sections are augmented with state level measures pertaining to the per capita number of fast- food restaurants, the per capita number of full-service restaurants, the price of a meal in each type of restaurant, the price of food consumed at home, the price of cigarettes, clean indoor air laws, and hours of work per week and hourly wage rates by age, gender, race, years of formal schooling completed, and marital status. Our main results are that these variables have the expected effects on obesity and explain a substantial amount of its trend. These findings control for individual-level measures of household income, years of formal schooling completed, and marital status.

Suggested Citation

Chou, Shin-Yi and Grossman, Michael and Saffer, Henry, An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (October 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w9247, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=336363

Shin-Yi Chou (Contact Author)

Lehigh University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Michael Grossman

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Henry Saffer

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

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