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Structural Estimation of Caloric Intake, Exercise, Smoking, and Obesity



The escalating rate of obesity in the US highlights the importance of understanding the causes for this rise. In this paper I employ the First, Second, and Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to estimate a structural model of the determinants of adult obesity. To control for the potential endogeneity of some explanatory variables, such as caloric intake (adjusted for activity level) and smoking, a set of reduced form equations for these outcomes is estimated simultaneously with the obesity equation. To identify each equation, I use an array of state-level characteristics as instrumental variables. Trends in these variables shed light on the sources of the rapid increase in obesity since 1980.

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