Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments

Edited by Robert Sandy, Gilbert Liu, John Ottensmann, John Tchernis, Jeff Wilson and O. T. Ford

in Economic Aspects of Obesity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226310091
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226310107 | DOI:
Studying the Child Obesity Epidemic with Natural Experiments

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This chapter studies the effect of changes in physical environment and crime levels on child weight and obesity by utilizing a natural experiment approach. Built environment changes include fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, recreation trails, and publicly accessible recreational amenities, such as public outdoor basketball courts and outdoor pools. It also studies the direct effect of crime levels on child obesity and interactions between changes in crime levels and the built environment on obesity. It compares the trend in body mass index (BMI) for children who will use an amenity in the future to the trend for children who never use an amenity. The best candidates for reducing BMI appeared to be fitness areas, kickball fields, and volleyball courts. Weight reductions for overweight children (defined as at the eighty-fifth percentile of the pre-epidemic distribution) in the range of three to six pounds, as estimated for eight-year-old boys for these amenities, are valuable results for an intervention.

Keywords: child obesity; body mass index; physical environment; crime level; weight reduction

Chapter.  16301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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