Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 7/2023: Swallow This: Childhood and Adolescent Exposure to Fast Food Restaurants, BMI, and Cognitive Ability

Sara Abrahamsson (), Aline Bütikofer () and Krzysztof Karbownik ()
Additional contact information
Sara Abrahamsson: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Aline Bütikofer: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Krzysztof Karbownik: Emory University

Abstract: Using spatial and temporal variation in openings of fast food restaurants in Norway between 1980 and 2007, we study the effects of changes in the supply of high caloric nutrition on the health and cognitive ability of young adult males. Our results indicate that exposure to these establishments during childhood and adolescence increases BMI and has negative effects on cognition. Heterogeneity analysis does not reveal meaningful differences in the effects across groups, including for those with adverse prenatal health or high paternal BMI, an exception being that cognition is only affected by exposure at ages 0–12 and this effect is mediated by paternal education.

Keywords: Fast food restaurants; food supply; BMI; obesity; cognitive ability

JEL-codes: I12; I20; J13; L66

Language: English

49 pages, May 6, 2023

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