What Do We Know about Transitions into and out of Obesity?

Yuriy Pylypchuk, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), HHS
Barbara Schone, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), HHS

Obesity is an important public health issue in the United States. Obesity is associated with serious medical conditions, and evidence suggests that the costs of obesity are high and growing. Not surprisingly, public health officials and policymakers are increasingly concerned about finding mechanisms to reverse these trends. In this paper, we use a long twelve year panel from the Health and Retirement Study to determine the factors (e.g., income, marriage, etc.) that are correlated with transitions into and out of obesity. We model the dynamics of obesity by assuming that the factors that affect entry into obesity may differ from the factors that affect exit out of obesity. Preliminary model estimates indicate that while there are some factors that affect entry and exit similarly, there are other factors that affect entry into and exit out of obesity very differently. For example, income decreases the likelihood of entering obesity for women but has no effect for men. Overall, our results also indicate that obesity appears to be an absorbing state as obesity rates increase consistently across time.

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Presented in Poster Session 1