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Abstract

In the U.S., urban sprawl and the rise in obesity rates have been two powerful trends during the latter half of the 20th century. Previous empirical work has found that obesity rates are influenced by labor market outcomes that are fundamentally shaped by the spatial pattern of developed land. We examine these potential linkages in an urban spatial model augmented to include time allocation and weight. Residents maximize utility defined over housing, weight, and food subject to a fixed time budget allocated to commuting, calorie expenditure, and work. We examine how weight is affected by commuting distance, food prices, and the rate of calorie expenditure; how a reduction in transportation costs affects weight throughout the city; and how initial weight affects location decisions. We identify, and explore the significance of, the conditions under which weight gain is associated with common features of sprawl.

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