Food Prices, Access to Food Outlets and Child Weight Outcomes: A Longitudinal Analysis

Posted: 20 Jun 2007

See all articles by Lisa M. Powell

Lisa M. Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA)

Yanjun Bao

Department of Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: May 2007

Abstract

This study examines the importance of food prices and restaurant and food store outlet availability for child body mass index (BMI) and ordered categorical weight outcomes. We use child-mother merged files from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth combined with fast food and fruit and vegetable price data obtained from the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association and outlet density data on fast food and full-service restaurants and supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores obtained from Dun & Bradstreet. We estimate naïve ordinary least squares, random-effects and child fixed-effects BMI models and generalized ordered probit and random-effects generalized ordered probit models of underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity for children aged 6 to 17. We also estimate separate models by children's age and race, family income, and mother's education status. Accounting for unobserved heterogeneity using random-effects estimation models, we find that a 10% increase in the price of fruits and vegetables increases BMI by 0.5% and lowers the prevalence of obesity by 4%. The price of fast food and the availability of restaurants and food stores are not found to be statistically significantly related to children's BMI or obesity. However, higher fast food prices are found to be weakly statistically significantly related to lower BMI among older children. Further analyses by sub-groups find the BMI of children in lower income families and those with lower educated mothers to be particularly sensitive to the price of fruits and vegetables suggesting that targeted subsidies for healthful foods may be an effective policy instrument for addressing child obesity in low-socioeconomic status families.

Keywords: obesity, food prices

JEL Classification: I10. I18, I19

Suggested Citation

Powell, Lisa M. and Bao, Yanjun, Food Prices, Access to Food Outlets and Child Weight Outcomes: A Longitudinal Analysis (May 2007). iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=995245

Lisa M. Powell (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA) ( email )

1747 W. Roosevelt Road
MC 275
Chicago, IL 60608
United States

Yanjun Bao

Department of Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

601 S Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

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