Fast Food Consumption and Food Prices
Project # 2
Geremew MosisaDavid Settle
Fast Food Consumption and Food Prices
The incidence of obesity increased rapidly among children and adolescents in the United States over the last few decades. Fast food consumption has been associated with higher total caloric intake, higher total fat and sodium intake, poorer nutrient and vitamin intake, higher Body Mass Index (BMI), and increased likelihood of obesity. An increase in fast food intake during the transition period from adolescence to adulthood was linked to greater weight gain. According to Centers for Disease Control(CDC) growth chart in 2007-08 obesity prevalence with body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 95th percent.
Journal of Obesity Volume 2012, Article ID 857697, 8 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/857697Parallel to the rising prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents, there was a rapid rise in the consumption of, and total energy intake derived from, food away from home, particularly at fast food restaurants. Furthermore, the frequency of fast food consumption was reported to be rising with age among children ages 9 through 19 as their consumption decisions become more independent of parental influences. An increase in fast food intake during the transition period from adolescence to adulthood was linked to greater weight gain. In addition, obesity itself has been shown to track from childhood to adulthood. Food prices have been shown to be key determinants of consumption and therefore may be good candidates for effective policy intervention aimed at improving dietary patterns among children and adolescents.
The typical American consumes a diet largely of processed foods and animal products. it’s easy to see how important the fast food contribution is to the “Western Diet” and our unhealthy choices.
The increased proportion of total caloric intake derived from fast food has been variously attributed to bigger portion sizes, increased convenience, taste, accessibility, and affordability.
A systematic review of time series and household survey studies on price elasticity of demand for food found that consumption of food away from home was more responsive to price changes than any other food category with a 10% increase in price associated with an 8.1% reduction in consumption. Linking food price to fast food consumption is important given that several recent studies have found statistically significant negative associations between fast food prices and the prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents. The link between fast food prices and consumption helps to establish that the observed negative association between fast food prices and obesity operates through fast food consumption and is not due to unobserved confounding factors. Therefore, we expanded on prior studies by using a longitudinal individual-level random effects estimation model, which controls for unobserved individual factors, to examine the relationship between children’s fast food consumption and prices of fast food and food at home. Economic contextual factors including median household income and availability of fast food restaurants at the zip code level were included in the analysis to further control for confounding factors. We also examined whether price responsiveness differed across several subpopulations.
Policymakers continue to consider several potential public health policy interventions aimed at reducing the negative health implications from the increasing rates of obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States. Public health policy may help to reduce obesity prevalence in children and adolescents by utilizing mechanisms that improve diets through the influence of food prices. Children and adolescents often have disposable income and were able to make independent meal selections when food is not purchased for them directly by their parents. Since children are less likely to understand the nutritional and health implications of their high caloric consumption patterns, this age group is more likely to be potentially influenced by prices as opposed to health consequences as they may have high rates of time preference. this study aimed to describe the relationship between fast food and food at home prices and fast food consumption among children using a nationally representative panel dataset. The results based on longitudinal estimation methods suggested that pricing policies in the form of taxes may be an effective tool for reducing fast food consumption. This estimate is in the mid- to lower-range of estimates of price elasticity of demand for food away from home. pricing mechanisms may have the strongest impact on those individuals who were in the upper tail of the body mass index distribution.
Work citedInstitute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
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