The past two decades have been characterized by an unprecedented increase in interior I provide novel evidence on how youth-targeted anti-obesity policies affect health behaviors. From 2003 to 2017, 32 states passed laws requiring schools to perform annual Body Mass Index (BMI) assessments on students. Though intended to correct imperfect information by providing teens and their parents with a report stating whether the child is overweight or obese, there is concern that these assessments may induce body dysmorphia and increase the incidence of eating disorders. Using the 1991-2017 National and State Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, I show that mandated school-based BMI assessments increased the likelihood that teen girls described themselves as overweight and reported that they were trying to lose weight. These changes were driven by overweight and obese girls holding more accurate views of their body types, suggesting that the assessments were successful in improving awareness about BMI and overweight status. While I do not detect changes in exercise, I show that teen girls with a negative body image were more likely to report calorie-limiting behaviors, such as dieting, fasting, and using diet pills. I do not detect changes in BMI, indicating that combating childhood obesity will require more than correcting imperfect information about clinical weight thresholds.
Work in Progress
“‘There She Is, Your Ideal’: Beauty Pageants, Negative Social Comparisons, and Health Behaviors” with Christopher S. Carpenter
“Bad Lighting: Effects of Youth Indoor Tanning Prohibitions” with Christopher S. Carpenter and Michelle Marcus
“Pharmacists’ Scope-of-Practice and HPV Vaccine Take-Up”