Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 19, 2017

The Effect of Neighborhood Fast Food on Children’s BMI: Evidence from a Sample of Movers

Yiwei Qian, Michael R. Thomsen, Rodolfo M. Nayga and Heather L. Rouse


We use a statewide panel dataset and an instrumental variable strategy to identify the effect of neighborhood fast food on the BMI z-scores of Arkansas public schoolchildren. As in earlier studies, we use distance from the child’s residence to the nearest major highway as an instrument for the density of fast-food restaurants. The sample is limited to children who moved at least once during the study period to ensure temporal variation in our instrument. Neighborhood fast food does have significant and positive effects on their BMI z-scores. The effect is disproportionately large for children who are rural, non-minority and female.

JEL Classification: I10; Q18

Funding statement: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM109096. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. This work as also supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-68001-30014 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


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A Appendix

Table 8:

IV fixed effects estimates (N = 530,628) for combinations of retail store types.

Fast food only (original specification)Fast food & full-service restaurant & convenience store
A half mile0.0792*0.0172**
Average count of retail stores0.532.66
Average effect0.0420.046
One mile0.0277*0.0060*
Average count of retail stores1.969.58
Average effect0.0540.057
Two miles0.0089*0.0019*
Average count of retail stores5.9229.01
Average effect0.0530.055
Five miles0.0026*0.0005*
Average count of retail stores17.7393.00
Average effect0.0460.047

  1. Note: This table presents the IV fixed effects estimates for different variables of interest. In the first column, the variable of interest is fast food only. In the second column, the variable of interest is “fast food + convenience stores + full-service restaurants”. All models also include other control variables reported in Table 5 and Table 6. Average count of retail stores gives the number of each type of retail store (i. e. the number of fast food and the number of “fast food + convenience stores + full-service restaurants”) within certain distance. Robust standard errors are in parenthesis and are clustered at the individual level. Asterisks indicate significance: ***. **, and * at the 0.01, 0.05, and 0.10 levels, respectively.

B Appendix

Table 9:

IV fixed effects estimates (N = 547,912) for different sets of retail store control variables.

Original specificationIncluding full-service restaurantsIncluding convenience storesIncluding full-service restaurants & convenience stores
A half mile0.0792**0.1888**0.1202**0.22**
One mile0.0277**0.088**0.0494**0.1264**
Two miles0.0089**0.0123**0.0113**0.0136**
Five miles0.0026**0.0027**0.0027**0.0028**

  1. Note: This table presents the IV fixed effects estimates for models that include different sets of variables (i. e., retail store type) from the base specification exhibited in Table 5 and Table 6. The first column is the base model, the second column includes full-service restaurants as a control variable, the third column includes convenience stores as a control variable and the last column includes both full-service restaurants and convenience stores as control variables. Robust standard errors appear in parenthesis and are clustered at the individual level. Asterisks indicate significance: ***. **, and * at the 0.01, 0.05, and 0.10 levels, respectively.

Published Online: 2017-8-19

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