Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HERO Online Working Paper Series,
University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme

No 2015:2: The impact of childhood obesity on health and health service use: an instrumental variable approach

Jonas Minet Kinge () and Stephan Morris ()
Additional contact information
Jonas Minet Kinge: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Postal: Norwegian Institute of Public Health, , Pb 4404 Nydalen, , 0403 Oslo,, Norway
Stephan Morris: University College London, Postal: University College London, Department of Applied Health Research, , Gower Street, , London WC1E 6BT, , United Kingdom

Abstract: In the following paper we estimate the impact of obesity in childhood on health and health service use in England using instrumental variables. We use data on children and adolescents aged 3-18 years old from fifteen rounds of the Health Survey for England (1998-2012), which has measures of self-assessed health, primary care use, prescribed medication use, and nurse-measured height and weight. We use instruments for child obesity using genetic variation in weight. We detect a few potential issues with the validity of the instrument; however further testing does not suggest that this has an effect on our results. We find that obesity has a statistically significant and negative impact on self-rated health and a positive impact on health service use in girls, boys, younger children (aged 3-10) and adolescents (aged 11-18). We detect significant endogeneity, which suggest that previous studies underestimate the impact of childhood obesity on health and health service use. For example, obesity is associated with and increased probability of doctor utilisation of 2%, but the IV results show that obesity increase the probability of use by 10%. This suggests that obesity has consequences for health and health service use when the children are still young.

Keywords: Children; Adolescents; Obesity; Body Mass Index; Self-assessed health; Doctor visits; Medication use

JEL-codes: H51; I10; I11; I12

23 pages, March 4, 2015

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