Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity

Shin-Yi Chou, Inas Rashad, Michael Grossman

NBER Working Paper No. 11879
Issued in December 2005
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

Childhood obesity around the world, and particularly in the United States, is an escalating problem that is especially detrimental as its effects carry on into adulthood. In this paper we employ the 1979 Child-Young Adult National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the effects of fast-food restaurant advertising on children and adolescents being overweight. The advertising measure used is the number of hours of spot television fast-food restaurant advertising messages seen per week. Our results indicate that a ban on these advertisements would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 in a fixed population by 10 percent and would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 12 percent. The elimination of the tax deductibility of this type of advertising would produce smaller declines of between 3 and 5 percent in these outcomes but would impose lower costs on children and adults who consume fast food in moderation because positive information about restaurants that supply this type of food would not be banned completely from television.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11879

Published: Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law & Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November. citation courtesy of

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