Economic Growth, Lifestyle Changes, and the Coexistence of Under and Overweight in China: A Semiparametric Approach

This paper investigates the relationship between the emerging coexistence of under and overweight and changes in socioeconomic conditions associated with economic growth in China during 1991-2000. Our key questions are: (1) whether any socioeconomic factor explains both increasing overweight and remaining underweight, (2) whether China's continuing economic growth leads to further increase in the prevalence of overweight, and (3) whether China's economic growth alone can lead to commensurate decrease in its remaining underweight. We find that changes in the pattern of job-related activity could partly explain both remaining underweight and increasing overweight, while overall income growth contributes to reducing both under and overweight. The effects of economic growth examined in this paper, particularly decreasing food prices, explain a large share of increasing overweight, and thus continuing economic growth is likely to lead to further increase in the revalence of overweight. Our empirical results also ndicate that there exist unobserved factors that significantly counteract the downward effects of economic growth on underweight rates, and thus economic growth alone is unlikely to lead to commensurate decrease in remaining underweight. To reduce remaining underweight more effectively, more direct interventions (e.g., micronutrient supplementation) may be needed.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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