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Economic Preferences and Obesity in a Low-Income African-American Community Angela de Oliveira, Tammy Leonard, Kerem Shuval, Celette Skinner, James Murdoch,

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Presentation on theme: "Economic Preferences and Obesity in a Low-Income African-American Community Angela de Oliveira, Tammy Leonard, Kerem Shuval, Celette Skinner, James Murdoch,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Economic Preferences and Obesity in a Low-Income African-American Community Angela de Oliveira, Tammy Leonard, Kerem Shuval, Celette Skinner, James Murdoch, Catherine Eckel

2 Health and the Project Unique population with high policy interest Multifaceted data collection effort Interdisciplinary research team: Health researchers with economists, psychologists Many different measures related to well-being Physical environment Household survey Health behavior Incentivized preference measures  OPPORTUNITY to study obesity We ask: Why is obesity higher among low-income African Americans?

3 Obesity and Preferences Economists believe behavior is driven by underlying preferences 1.Risk aversion: avoiding risk motivates safe, cautious behavior 2.Patience: a long-run perspective motivates behavior that makes future outcomes better Both lead to healthier behavioral choices

4 Obesity BMI LevelNumber of subjects % of population US population (approx) Under or normal weight Overweight Obese Obese Obese

5 Risk Measure Valencia 2011 Trust 5

6 Risk Preferences Valencia 2011 Trust 6

7 Time Preferences Valencia 2011 Trust 7 Patience variablePercent Never patient (0 patient decisions) 41.7 Somewhat patient (1-3 patient decisions) 45.5 Very patient (4-6 patient decisions) 12.8

8 Data 496 participants completed household survey 198 of these completed incentivized tasks; 156 complete data Primary dependent variable: Obesity Secondary dependent variables: Exercise: 38% yes TV: Mean = 5.7 hours/wk Data analysis strategy: predict obesity category Primary independent variables: Risk tolerance, Patience Controls: Gender, race, age, income, marital status, children, health insurance, unemployed, self-reported health status

9 Results Risk: Positively related to Obesity Positively related to Exercise Positively related to TV Patience: No relationship to Obesity Positively related to Exercise No relationship to TV

10 Conclusion Risk tolerance is related to obesity, despite also being related to exercise; Sedentary behavior may play a more important role No relationship between patience and obesity for this population In another study, patience is related to exercise. Participants who believe their health is good are MORE likely to be obese, but also to exercise. Policy implications: Efforts to reduce risk and encourage physical activity may reduce obesity Information may impact perceptions of future consequences of unhealthy behaviors Direct measurement and examination of economic preferences might lead to a more targeted approach at applying behavioral economic concepts to health issues.

11 Related papers Leonard, Tammy, Kerem Shuval, Angela de Oliveira, Celette Sugg Skinner, Catherine Eckel, James C. Murdoch. (2012) “Health Behavior and Behavioral Economics: Economic Preferences and Physical Activity Stages of Change in a Low-Income African American Community.” Forthcoming, American Journal of Health Promotion, forthcoming. Shuval, K., Leonard, T., Skinner, C., Caughy, M., Kohl, H., Murdoch, J.C. (2012). “Sedentary Behaviors And Obesity Among A Low Income, Ethnic Minority Population.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health, In Press. Leonard, T.C.M., Caughy, M.O., Mays, J.K., Murdoch, J.C. (2011). “Systemic Neighborhood Observations at High Spatial Resolution: Methodology and Assessment of Potential Benefits.” PLoS ONE 6(6): e20225.doi: /journal.pone Leonard, T.C.M., Croson, R.T.A., Oliviera, A.C.M. (2010). “Social Capital and Public Goods.” Journal of Socio-Economics Vol. 39 Issue 4.


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