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An economic perspective on childhood obesity: exploring the causes and consequences of childhood obesity

Background

Obesity provokes national and international concern, and in many countries it is an increasing priority in terms of public policy. In the UK in recent years there have been many policies and strategies aimed at tackling obesity, including a specific NHS and Public Health England call to action on obesity in England (2011) and the recent sugar tax. These recent UK policy initiatives, which are in part reflected more widely across other OECD countries, indicate broad support for government intervention, but there is debate over how best to intervene to address the obesity problem, and to what extent it is appropriate to intervene. A more detailed understanding of the causes and consequences of childhood obesity will help in the design of more effective public policy to address the growing obesity problem.

Project aims and objectives

The aims of the research project are to employ the economics perspective to explore the causes and consequences of childhood obesity. Economic analyses, in the context of health, healthcare, and the multi-disciplinary approach used across health services research, can add insight to how people make choices over food, health and obesity. Economics puts a spot-light on the key trade-offs people confront; and how these trade-offs are affected by the circumstances they can control and those they cannot. For example, economics may help to identify how influences such as relative prices, relative incomes, time constraints, and other environmental factors affect a person’s lifestyle choices and how such choices may link to health status. Using current statistical data and literature on childhood obesity as a foundation, specific objectives will be to estimate the future impact of childhood obesity on health events/outcomes, and on broader societal outcomes, and to employ an econometric framework to explore potential causes of childhood obesity.

Project activity

I am currently gathering literature review on the statistics on obesity and on the methods that are used to estimate the impact of obesity on the society.

Anticipated outputs

This study will identify and quantify the impact of some of the most detrimental causes of obesity and will shed light on some of the consequences on employment, earnings and other factors that it may impact.

Next steps

The next steps would be to conduct a systematic literature review on obesity and the methods employed to quantify the impact it has.

Further information

If you’d like to learn more, please contact Viktorija Kesaite via Email

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