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Cheap Donuts and Expensive Broccoli: The Effect of Relative Prices on Obesity

36 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2007 Last revised: 17 Dec 2009

Jonah B. Gelbach

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: December 15, 2009

Abstract

In recent years, much attention has been directed at the ongoing increase in body weight, and what might be done about it. We use data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for the period 1982-1996 to estimate models relating measures of body weight (BMI, a dummy indicating that a person is overweight or obese, and a dummy indicating that a person is obese) to two food price indexes constructed using regional BLS price data as well as the official BLS food price index. The most aggressive use of our results suggests that variation in year-to-year food prices is unlikely to explain much of the increase in body weight over our sample period. This conclusion holds true regardless of the food price measure we consider.

Keywords: BMI, fat, diet, health, wild cluster bootstrap, fat tax

JEL Classification: C15, D12, H23, H51, I12, I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Gelbach, Jonah B. and Klick, Jonathan and Stratmann, Thomas, Cheap Donuts and Expensive Broccoli: The Effect of Relative Prices on Obesity (December 15, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=976484 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.976484

Jonah B. Gelbach

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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