Economic Preferences and Obesity in a Low-Income African-American Community Angela de Oliveira, Tammy Leonard, Kerem Shuval, Celette Skinner, James Murdoch, Catherine Eckel Health and the Project • Unique population with high policy interest • Multifaceted data collection effort • Interdisciplinary research team: Health researchers with economists, psychologists • Many different measures related to well-being • • • • Physical environment Household survey Health behavior Incentivized preference measures • OPPORTUNITY to study obesity • We ask: Why is obesity higher among low-income African Americans? Obesity and Preferences • Economists believe behavior is driven by underlying preferences 1. Risk aversion: avoiding risk motivates safe, cautious behavior 2. Patience: a long-run perspective motivates behavior that makes future outcomes better • Both lead to healthier behavioral choices Obesity BMI Level Number of subjects % of population Under or normal weight 48 30.8 US population (approx) 29.5 Overweight Obese 1 Obese 2 37 27 21 23.7 17.3 13.5 35.2 19.8 9.2 Obese 3 23 14.7 6.3 Risk Measure 5 Valencia 2011 Trust Risk Preferences 35 30 % of Participants 25 20 15 10 5 0 40/40 30/60 20/80 10/100 Gambles Valencia 2011 Trust 0/120 -10/130 6 Time Preferences Patience variable Percent Never patient (0 patient decisions) 41.7 Somewhat patient (1-3 patient decisions) 45.5 Very patient (4-6 patient decisions) 12.8 7 Valencia 2011 Trust Data • 496 participants completed household survey • 198 of these completed incentivized tasks; 156 complete data • Primary dependent variable: Obesity • Secondary dependent variables: • Exercise: 38% yes • TV: Mean = 5.7 hours/wk • Data analysis strategy: predict obesity category • Primary independent variables: Risk tolerance, Patience • Controls: Gender, race, age, income, marital status, children, health insurance, unemployed, self-reported health status Results • Risk: • Positively related to Obesity • Positively related to Exercise • Positively related to TV • Patience: • No relationship to Obesity • Positively related to Exercise • No relationship to TV Conclusion • Risk tolerance is related to obesity, despite also being related to exercise; Sedentary behavior may play a more important role • No relationship between patience and obesity for this population • In another study, patience is related to exercise. • Participants who believe their health is good are MORE likely to be obese, but also to exercise. • Policy implications: • Efforts to reduce risk and encourage physical activity may reduce obesity • Information may impact perceptions of future consequences of unhealthy behaviors • Direct measurement and examination of economic preferences might lead to a more targeted approach at applying behavioral economic concepts to health issues. Related papers • Leonard, Tammy, Kerem Shuval, Angela de Oliveira, Celette Sugg Skinner, Catherine Eckel, James C. Murdoch. (2012) “Health Behavior and Behavioral Economics: Economic Preferences and Physical Activity Stages of Change in a Low-Income African American Community.” Forthcoming, American Journal of Health Promotion, forthcoming. • Shuval, K., Leonard, T., Skinner, C., Caughy, M., Kohl, H., Murdoch, J.C. (2012). “Sedentary Behaviors And Obesity Among A Low Income, Ethnic Minority Population.” Journal of Physical Activity and Health, In Press. • Leonard, T.C.M., Caughy, M.O., Mays, J.K., Murdoch, J.C. (2011). “Systemic Neighborhood Observations at High Spatial Resolution: Methodology and Assessment of Potential Benefits.” PLoS ONE 6(6): e20225.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020225. • Leonard, T.C.M., Croson, R.T.A., Oliviera, A.C.M. (2010). “Social Capital and Public Goods.” Journal of Socio-Economics Vol. 39 Issue 4.