Is there a link between gasoline prices and obesity?

I find evidence of a negative association between gasoline prices and body weight using a fixed effects model with several robustness checks. I also show that increases in gas prices are associated with additional walking and a reduction in the frequency with which people eat at restaurants, explaining their effect on weight. My estimates imply that 8% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to the concurrent drop in real gas prices, and that a permanent $1 increase in gasoline prices would reduce overweight and obesity in the United States by 7% and 10%.

Source: “A SILVER LINING? THE CONNECTION BETWEEN GASOLINE PRICES AND OBESITY” from Economic Inquiry

If you want to learn more about the science behind the obesity epidemic I recommend the book Waistland by Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett. It covers the obesity epidemic from an evolutionary standpoint and introduced me to the novel concept of “supernormal stimuli.”

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