Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sermon on the (Food) Mount: The BeFATitudes

Could THIS:

Body Composition and Wages, Roy Wada & Erdal Tekin, NBER Working Paper, November 2007

This paper examines the effect of body composition on wages. We develop measures of body composition - body fat (BF) and fat-free mass (FFM) - using data on bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) that are available in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III and estimate wage models for respondents in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. Our results indicate that increased body fat is unambiguously associated with decreased wages for both males and females. This result is in contrast to the mixed and sometimes inconsistent results from the previous research using body mass index (BMI). We also find new evidence indicating that a higher level of fat-free body mass is consistently associated with increased hourly wages. We present further evidence that these results are not the artifacts of unobserved heterogeneity. Our findings are robust to numerous specification checks and to a large number of alternative BIA prediction equations from which the body composition measures are derived. Our work addresses an important limitation of the current literature on the economics of obesity. Previous research relied on body weight or BMI for measuring obesity despite the growing agreement in the medical literature that they represent misleading measures of obesity because of their inability to distinguish between body fat and fat-free body mass. Body composition measures used in this paper represent significant improvements over the previously used measures because they allow for the effects of fat and fat free components of body composition to be separately identified. Our work also contributes to the growing literature on the role of non-cognitive characteristics on wage determination.

Be explained by THIS:

Personality traits and eating behavior in the obese: Poor self-control in
emotional and external eating but personality assets in restrained eating

Kristina Elfhag & Lesley Morey, Eating Behaviors, forthcoming

Personality traits can give a fuller understanding for eating behaviors in obesity. The objective was to describe eating behavior (Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire) in terms of the Big Five personality traits (NEO Personality Inventory - Revised) in obesity patients (n=442). Emotional eating was strongly positively associated to Neuroticism, in particular impulsiveness and depression, and further linked to lower Conscientiousness mainly seen in lower self-discipline, and lower Extraversion. External eating was likewise mainly associated to the facets impulsiveness and lower self-discipline. Restrained eating was on the other hand related to higher Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Openness, and lower Neuroticism. These results imply that poor self-control seen in impulsiveness and lower self-discipline was most important for eating due to negative emotions as well as in response to external food stimuli, suggesting that the inhibition of eating and difficulties to govern ones behavior are major aspects of these eating behaviors. Attempts to control food intake and body weight seen in restrained eating were associated with more character strengths and ambitions, and also a more outgoing personality style with more stable emotions.

(Nod to KL, who is always restrained, even if it costs him extra at the Mustang Ranch)