The Obesity/Gasoline Relationship

It turns out that higher gas prices may have one positive side-effect. According to research from a doctoral dissertation by someone at Washington University in St. Louis, higher gas prices leads to less U.S. obesity.

$1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15%
after five years, and that 13% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and
2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during this period. I
also provide evidence that the effect occurs both by increasing
exercise and by lowering the frequency with which people eat at
restaurants.

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Comments

  1. - and your 15% reduction in obesity would result in huge health care cost savings as well.

  2. Joe says:

    No it wouldn’t. The correlation between obesity and high health care costs is almost non-existent. Most of what you hear is purely anecdotal. Once tested, these ideas almost always go down in flames.

  3. Shefaly says:

    “The correlation between obesity and high health care costs is almost non-existent.”
    Really? It is not anecdotal at all.
    Research using NHANES data in 2002 showed that obese adults between 18 and 65 years of age have 36% higher average annual medical expenditures compared with those of normal weight.
    In 2003 money, aggregate obesity-attributable medical expenditures accounted for 5.3% of adult medical expenditures in the US. About 50% of this is financed by Medicare and Medicaid.
    In 2004 money, the estimate of US’s annual obesity-attributable medical expenditure stands at $75B.
    If all obesity-attributable medical expenditures were financed through taxes levied at the national level, the tax would need to be set at approximately $350 per adult to fully recover the costs.
    So well, sorry to disappoint but there is a finite relationship between obesity and healthcare costs.
    Now unless you are saying the CDC is rubbish and NHANES and BRFSS data is junk… of course, I leave it to you to critique your own country’s institutions otherwise seen as exemplars.
    PS: The doctoral research results, while fascinating, are not really useful from a policy perspective. It is like Twinkie Tax. It will not fly because the public wants the right to self-determination.

  4. indiejade says:

    Not the newest idea.
    http://themermaidtavern.blogspot.com/2004/03/high-gas-prices-blessing-in-disguise.html
    But the statistics numbers are always interesting.