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Obesity and the Availability of Fast-Food: An Instrumental Variables Approach

41 Pages Posted: 29 May 2007 Last revised: 10 Apr 2008

Richard A. Dunn

University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Date Written: March 31, 2008

Abstract

This paper addresses the simultaneous determination of fast-food availability on obesity rates through the use of instrumental variables, specifically the number of interstate exits in the county of residence. Using the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and self-collected data on the density of various fast-food restaurants in US counties, I find that a ten percent increase in the number of restaurants from the mean would increase BMI by .33 points, roughly 1.05kg for a male 1.78 meters tall and .88kg for a female 1.64 meters tall. The results are robust to the selection criteria for counties and the method yields results comparable to previous work looking at rural counties, though the sample employed here is much more generalizable.

Keywords: obesity, fast-food, instrumental variables, BRFSS, interstate

JEL Classification: I10, R12, R40

Suggested Citation

Dunn, Richard A., Obesity and the Availability of Fast-Food: An Instrumental Variables Approach (March 31, 2008). iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=989363 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.989363

Richard A. Dunn (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4066
Storrs, CT 06269
United States
860-486-0111 (Phone)

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