The health care costs of childhood obesity in Australia: an instrumental variables approach

Nicole Black, Robert Hughes, Andrew Michael Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of childhood obesity on medical costs incurred by the Australian Government is estimated using five waves of panel data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which is linked to public health insurance administrative records from Medicare Australia. Instrumental variables estimators are used to address concerns about measurement error and selection bias. The additional annual medical costs due to overweight and obesity among 6 to 13 year olds is about $43 million (in 2015 AUD). This is driven by a higher utilisation of general practitioner and specialist doctors. The results suggest that the economic consequences of childhood obesity are much larger than previously estimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
Early online date23 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • BMI
  • Child
  • Instrumental variable
  • Medical costs
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Ren

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