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Economics of Food Energy Density and Adolescent Body Weight

Auld MC, Powell LM. Economica, 76: 719-740, 2009.

We present a simple microeconomic behavioral model showing that decreases in the price of energy-dense foods increase body weight if the price of obtaining a calorie from dense food is lower than that of less dense food. Estimates of the determinants of adolescent BMI suggest that the price of high-density food is negatively related to BMI whereas the price of low density food is positively related. Restaurant availability is not associated with weight, but increases in supermarket density predict lower weight. Quantile regressions show that most of the changes in body weight occur in the top quintile of the conditional distribution of BMI.

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