Agricultural Policy and Childhood Obesity

John Cawley, Barrett E Kirwan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates the extent to which agricultural policies contribute to childhood obesity. It starts by exploring the policies that directly affect production, such as agricultural subsidies (i.e., price supports, production subsidies, and farmland subsidies), acreage controls, tariffs on imported commodities, and agricultural extension research. The chapter then evaluates the policies aimed at stimulating the demand for food, such as commodity-distribution programs and commodity-promotion programs, and proposes the reforms that would better align agricultural policy with health policy regarding childhood obesity. Agricultural subsidies fall into three main categories: price supports, production subsidies, and farmland subsidies. The United States imposes tariff-rate quotas on imports of certain agricultural commodities. Banning the use of checkoff funds to develop and market fast food could decrease the prevalence of being overweight by 1.4 percent among those aged 3-11 years and by 1.1 percent among those aged 12-18 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940684
ISBN (Print)9780199736362
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012


  • Acreage controls
  • Agricultural policies
  • Childhood obesity
  • Commodity
  • Farmland subsidies
  • Price supports
  • Production subsidies
  • Tariffs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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