NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change

Tomas J. Philipson, Richard A. Posner

NBER Working Paper No. 7423
Issued in November 1999
NBER Program(s):   HE

This paper analyzes the factors contributing to the worldwide long-run rise in obesity and the effects of public interventions on its continued growth. The growth of obesity in a population results from an increase in calorie consumption relative to physical activity. Yet in developed countries, obesity has grown with modest rises in calorie consumption and with a substantial increase in both dieting and recreational exercise. We consider the economic incentives that give rise to a growth in obesity by stimulating intake of calories while discouraging the expending of calories on physical activity. We argue that technological change provides a natural interpretation of the long-run growth in obesity despite a rise in dieting and exercise, that it predicts that the effect of income on obesity falls with economic development, and that it implies that the growth in obesity may be self-limiting.

download in pdf format
   (1643 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (1643 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7423

Published: Philipson, T., and R. Posner. “The Long Run Growth of Obesity as a Function of Technological Change." Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46, 3 (Summer 2003): 87-108.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Philipson and Posner w14010 Is the Obesity Epidemic a Public Health Problem? A Decade of Research on the Economics of Obesity
Lakdawalla and Philipson w8946 The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination
Chou, Grossman, and Saffer w9247 An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Cutler, Glaeser, and Shapiro w9446 Why Have Americans Become More Obese?
Chou, Kelly, and Grossman w11879 Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us