Defining Fat Down

Americans are more overweight than ever but Burke, Heiland and Nadler find:

…that the probability of self-classifying as overweight is significantly
lower on average in the more recent survey, for both men and women, controlling
for objective weight status and other factors….The shifts in self classification are not explained by differences between
surveys in body fatness or waist circumference, nor by shifting demographics. We
interpret the findings as evidence of a generational shift in social norms
related to body weight, and propose various mechanisms to explain such a shift,
including: (1) higher average adult BMI and adult obesity rates in the later
survey cohort, (2) higher childhood obesity rates in the later survey cohort,
and (3) public education campaigns promoting healthy body image. The welfare
implications of the observed trends in self-classification are mixed.


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