Are Restaurants Really Supersizing America?

While many researchers and policymakers infer from correlations between eating out and body weight that restaurants are a leading cause of obesity, a basic identification problem challenges these conclusions. We exploit the placement of Interstate highways in rural areas to obtain exogenous variation in the effective price of restaurants and examine the impact on body mass. We find no causal link between restaurant consumption and obesity. Analysis of food-intake micro-data suggests that consumers offset calories from restaurant meals by eating less at other times. We conclude that regulation targeting restaurants is unlikely to reduce obesity but could decrease consumer welfare.


Issue Date:
Dec 30 2007
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
PURL Identifier:
http://purl.umn.edu/37652
Total Pages:
68
JEL Codes:
D12; H25; I12; I18
Note:
Replaced with revised version Feb. 24, 2010.
Series Statement:
CUDARE Working Papers
1056R




 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-25

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