Plantinga 2005 - "A Spatial Economic Analysis of Urban Land Use and Obesity"

Plantinga, Andrew J and Bernell, Stephanie
"A Spatial Economic Analysis of Urban Land Use and Obesity"
Journal of Regional Science
August 2005, Vol 45, n.3, pp.473-492
relevance: medium
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The authors create a theoretical economic model of neighborhood choice and obesity. They basically argue that while obesity and sprawl are linked, it's ok because it's a conscious trade-off for a cheaper house, akin to the trade off with longer commute times.

Key sentences

  • "As such, residents are willing to accept the tradeoff of higher weight for more housing."
  • "In particular, low-density development should not be viewed as a cause of high obesity rates any more than it should be seen as a cause of higher commuting costs."

The paper is pretty technical and full of assumptions, many of which the authors need to verify empirically before moving on to further assumptions and their conclusions. Some quibbles include:

  • How could residents consciously choose house size over body size when the connection has been made only recently?
  • While people with a higher income may consume better quality food, they do not necessarily consume more total calories.

See Cascadia Scorecard weblog post


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