Native American obesity: An economic model of the "thrifty gene" theory

Timothy Richards, Paul M. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Native American obesity is hypothesized to result from three potential causes: (1) a genetic predisposition, or the "thrifty gene,"(2) a rational addiction to nutrients, and (3) dietary adjustment costs. These hypotheses are tested using a two-stage household production approach and scanner data from a panel of Native and non-Native supermarkets. Nutrient intake for both groups is strongly influenced by adjustment costs. Native Americans tend to place higher implicit valuations on protein relative to fats and carbohydrates compared to non-Natives. Consequently, reductions in real carbohydrate prices over time may be a cause of high incidence of Native American obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-560
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Addiction
  • Diabetes
  • Dynamic
  • Household production
  • Native Americans
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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