Health Outcomes and Trade: Does openness to trade affect childhood underweight and overweight?

October 19, 2016

Below is an abstract for a paper presented at the 2014 Latin American Social and Public Policy Conference held at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here for a link to the PDF of the full article.

Rates of overweight and obesity have nearly doubled since 1980 (World Health Organization [WHO] 2013). Once a problem only for high-income countries, it is increasingly common in emerging economies and developing countries. High prevalence of overweight now occurs alongside high rates of underweight and malnutrition. Critics have implicated globalization and openness to trade in exporting obesity to low- and middle-income countries. In contrast, researchers have found strong evidence that openness to trade improves health outcomes and decreases rates of infant mortality and underweight. To explore the connection between openness to trade and rates of underweight and overweight, I use panel data for thirty countries. The results of my study support previous research that openness to trade is connected with increased life expectancy and decreased percent of child underweight. I also find evidence that openness to trade is associated with increased rates of childhood overweight, and that the impact is more significant for low-income countries.



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About Author(s)

Katelin Hudak
Katelin Hudak is a 2014 candidate for a Master's in International Development at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, with a minor in Policy Analysis. Her area of focus is food and agricultural policy.