Swallow This: Childhood and Adolescent Exposure to Fast Food Restaurants, BMI, and Cognitive Ability
Using spatial and temporal variation in openings of fast food restaurants in Norway between 1980 and 2007, we study the effects of changes in the supply of high caloric nutrition on the health and cognitive ability of young adult males. Our results indicate that exposure to these establishments during childhood and adolescence increases BMI and has negative effects on cognition. Heterogeneity analysis does not reveal meaningful differences in the effects across groups, including for those with adverse prenatal health or high paternal BMI, an exception being that cognition is only affected by exposure at ages 0--12 and this effect is mediated by paternal education.
We gratefully acknowledge comments by Sandra E. Black, Alex Hollingsworth, Dan-Olof Rooth, and Marianne Page, and seminar and conference participants at the Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics, the European Association of Labour Economists, the Essen Health Conference, Emory University, Monash University, the Norwegian School of Economics, Uppsala University, and the University of California, Davis. This work was partially funded by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence Scheme, FAIR project No. 262675, CeFH project No. 262700, and by the Research Council of Norway FRIHUMSAM project No. 275800. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.