A growing body of literature has examined the determinants of childhood obesity, but little is known about children’s subjective wellbeing. To fulfill this gap, this paper examines the effects of fast food and soft drink consumption on children’s overweight and unhappiness. Using a nationwide survey data in Taiwan and estimating a simultaneous mixed equation system, our results generally suggest a tradeoff in policy implication. Fast food and soft drink consumption tend to be positively associated with children’s increased risk of being overweight but they are also negatively associated with their degree of unhappiness. Current and future policy/program interventions that aim to decrease fast food and soft drinks consumption of children to reduce childhood obesity may be more effective if these interventions also focus on ways that could compensate the increase in degree of unhappiness among children.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Several indicators from the psychological science can also be found in Frey and Stutzer (2002).
We exclude the children sample if their parents didn’t live with them.
To avoid the clustering effects as a result of multiple children from the same family, we follow the method used in McIntosh et al. (2006) to randomly select only one child from each household.
It is measured as the ratio of weight (in kilogram) to height squared (in meters).
The cutoff points for determining overweight or obese weight status in Taiwan can be found on the website http://www.vghtpe.gov.tw/~nutr/forum/forum02/bmi2.htm.
The percentages of these categories in our sample are 80, 18, and 2, respectively.
To save space, we didn’t present the derivatives of the probability of other regimes. However, they can be derived in a similar way.
The interpretation of the treatment effect is similar to the continuous outcome variable case discussed on page 787–788 in Greene (2003). However, it is of note that the average treatment effect in our case is the differences in the predicted probability, instead of the expected values as the continuous variable case.
Discussions of the model identification through the nonlinear functional form are on page 121 in Maddala (1983).
A detailed discussion of the proposed test procedure can be found on page 71–72 in Kan (2007).
The asymptotic statistics of the likelihood ratio test to the F test is discussed in Kan (2007).
Amemiya, T. (1973). Regression analysis when the dependent variable is truncated normal. Econometrica, 41, 997–1016. doi:10.2307/1914031.
Anand, P., & Clark, A. (2006). Symposium introduction: life satisfaction and welfare economics. Journal of Socio-Economics, 35, 177–179. doi:10.1016/j.socec.2005.11.013.
Andersen, L., Lillegaard, I., Overby, N., Lytle, L., Klepp, K., & Johansson, L. (2005). Overweight and obesity among Norwegian school children: changes from 1993 to 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 33, 99–106. doi:10.1080/140349404100410019172.
Anderson, P., Butcher, K., & Levine, P. (2003). Economic perspectives on children obesity. Economic Perspectives, QIII, 30–48.
Ariza, A., Chen, E., Binns, H., & Christoffel, K. (2004). Risk factors for overweight in five- to six-year-old Hispanic-American children: a pilot study. Journal of Urban Health, 81, 150–161. doi:10.1093/jurban/jth091.
Berkey, C., Rockett, H., Field, A., Gillman, M., & Colditz, G. (2004). Sugar-added beverages and adolescent weight changes. Obesity Research, 12, 778–788. doi:10.1038/oby.2004.94.
Bowman, S., Gortmaker, S., Ebbeling, E., Pereira, M., & Ludwig, D. (2004). Effects of fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a national household survey. Pediatrics, 113, 112–118. doi:10.1542/peds.113.1.112.
Chen, L., Fox, K., Haase, A., & Wang, J. (2006). Obesity, fitness, and health in Taiwanese children and adolescents. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60, 1367–1375. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602466.
Crespo, C., Smit, E., Trojano, R., Bartlett, S., Macera, C., & Anderse, R. (2001). Television watching, energy intake, and obesity in U.S. children: results from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 155, 360–365.
Cummins, R. (2000). Personal income and subjective-wellbeing: a review. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 133–158. doi:10.1023/A:1010079728426.
Currie, J., & Stabile, M. (2006). Child mental health and human capital accumulation: the case of ADHD. Journal of Health Economics, 25, 1094–1118. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2006.03.001.
Easterlin, R. (2001). Income and happiness: toward a unified theory. The Economic Journal, 111, 465–484. doi:10.1111/1468-0297.00646.
Forshee, R., Anderson, P., & Storey, M. (2004). The role of beverage consumption, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and demographics on body mass index of adolescents. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 55, 463–478. doi:10.1080/09637480400015729.
Frey, B., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and Economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Graham, C. (2005). Insights on development from the economics of happiness. The World Bank Research Observer, 20, 201–231. doi:10.1093/wbro/lki010.
Greene, W. (2003). Econometric analysis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hager, R. (2006). Television viewing and physical activities in children. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 656–661. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.04.020.
Hajivassiliou, V., McFadden, D., & Ruud, P. (1996). Simulation of multivariate normal rectangle probabilities and their derivatives: theoretical and computational results. Journal of Econometrics, 72, 85–134. doi:10.1016/0304-4076(94)01716-6.
Hsieh, P., & FitzGerald, M. (2005). Childhood obesity in Taiwan: review of the Taiwanese literature. Nursing & Health Sciences, 7, 134–142. doi:10.1111/j.1442-2018.2005.00218.x.
Hui, L., Nelson, E., Yu, L., Li, A., & Fok, T. (2003). Risk factors for childhood overweight in 6-to 7-y-old Hong Kong children. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1411–1418. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802423.
Kahneman, D., & Krueger, A. (2006). Development in the measurement of subjective well-being. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20, 3–24. doi:10.1257/089533006776526030.
Kan, K. (2007). Cigarette smoking and self-control. Journal of Health Economics, 26, 61–81. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2006.07.002.
Lin, C. (2002). The prevention of children’s mental health problem. Student Affairs, 83, 119–123. in Chinese.
Lin, B., Huang, C., & French, S. (2004). Factors associated with women’s and children’s body mass indices by income status. International Journal of Obesity, 28, 536–542. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802604.
Lindberg, L., & Swanberg, I. (2006). Well-being of 12-year-old children related to interpersonal relations, health habits and mental distress. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 20, 274–281. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2006.00405.x.
Lindsay, A., Sussner, K., Kim, J., & Gortmaker, S. (2006). The role of parents in preventing childhood obesity. The Future of Children, 16, 169–186. doi:10.1353/foc.2006.0006.
Lo, K. H., Pan, L. Y., Lin, M. C., Chang, H. Y., & Shih, Y. T. (2003). The analysis of special physical inactivity, higher energy intakes and body mass index of children in Taiwan: results of 2001 National Health Interview Survey. Taiwan Journal of Public Health, 22, 474–482.
Ludwig, D., Peterson, K., & Gortmaker, S. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet, 357, 505–508. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04041-1.
Maddala, G. (1983). Limited dependent and quantitative variables in Econometrics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Marshall, T., Levy, S., Broffitt, B., Warren, J., Eichenberger-Gilmore, J., Burns, T., et al. (2003). Dental caries and beverage consumption in young children. Pediatrics, 112, e184–e191. doi:10.1542/peds.112.3.e184.
McIntosh, A., Davis, G., Nayga, R., Jr., Anding, J., Torres, C., Kubena, K., Perusquia, E., Yeley, G., & You, W. (2006). Parental time, role strain, and children’s fat intake and obesity-related outcomes. Contractor and Cooperator Report No 263, Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Washington DC.
Pan, L. Y., Chang, H. Y., & Shih, Y. T. (2003). The 2001 National Health Interview Survey: geographic variation and family aggregation of helmet use among children aged 6 to 12 in Taiwan. Taiwan Journal of Public Health, 22, 483–491.
Staiger, D., & Stock, J. (1997). Instrumental variables regression with weak instruments. Econometrica, 65, 557–586. doi:10.2307/2171753.
Taiwan Medical Association for the study of obesity (TMASO). (2007). Children’s obesity. http://www.obesity.org.tw.
Train, K. (2003). Discrete choice methods with simulation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Troiano, R., Briefel, R., Carroll, M., & Bialostosky, K. (2000). Energy and fat intakes of children and adolescents in the United States: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72, 1343S–1353S.
World Health Organization. (2000). Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic-report of a WHO consultation. WHO Technical Report Series, 894.
Wu, T. (2001). Childhood obesity in Taiwan. Endocrinology and Dialectology, 14, 38–39.
Hung-Hao Chang acknowledges partial funding support from the National Science Counsel of Taiwan under Grant No: 95-2415-H-002-041. The data used in the analysis is provided by the Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health and National Health Research Institute in Taiwan. The interpretation and conclusions do not represent those of Department of Health and National Health Research Institute. The authors accept responsibility for any remaining errors or omissions.
About this article
Cite this article
Chang, HH., Nayga, R.M. Childhood Obesity and Unhappiness: The Influence of Soft Drinks and Fast Food Consumption. J Happiness Stud 11, 261–275 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-009-9139-4
- Childhood obesity
- Fast food
- Soft drink