Are restaurants really supersizing America?

Michael L. Anderson*, David A. Matsa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-188
Number of pages37
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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