US obesity rates started rising in the 1980s. Before that, they had been stable since the Great Depression. Our research on the history of child obesity has been covered in freakonomics.com,

Long obesity trends

We keep trying to solve child obesity through schools, but it’s during summer vacations that obesity rates rise. Our research on summer weight gain has been reported by the New York Times, NPR.org, and over a hundred other news outlets.

Summer obesity

Among the school obesity policies that don’t work are blank checks to spend on physical education. Between 2009 and 2013, the state of Texas gave high poverty middle schools $37 million to spend on PE. The schools bought a lot of sports and exercise equipment, but obesity rates didn’t fall.

Source: von Hippel, P. T. & †Bradbury, K. (2015). “The effects of school physical education grants on obesity, fitness, and achievement.” Preventive Medicine 78: 45-51.

Women with a bachelor’s degree weight 14 pounds less, on average, than women without one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a college degree keeps your weight down. The weight differences are in place well before college begins. Even among 15-year-old girls, those who will later complete a bachelor’s degree weigh 7 pounds less, on average, than those who will not.

Selection on BMI

  • Source: von Hippel, P. T., & Lynch, J.L. (2014). “Why are educated adults slim—causation or selection?” Social Science and Medicine 105: 131-139. PubMed 24524908. Also available as SSRN working paper 2054843.
  • See also:
    • Benson, R., von Hippel, P.T., & Lynch, J.L. (2017). “Does more education cause lower BMI, or do lower-BMI individuals become more educated? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979.” Social Science and Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.042. Also available as SSRN working paper 2945097.
    • Lynch, J.L. & von Hippel, P.T. (2016) “An education gradient in health, a health gradient in education, or a confounded gradient in both?” Social Science and Medicine 154:18-27. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.02.029. Also available as SSRN working paper 2583971.