Military Interventions and Obesity:
Evidence from Mexico’s Drug War


This paper estimates the effect of exposure to the military operations against the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico on weight related outcomes using number of operations from military records and longitudinal data from the Mexican Family Life Survey (MXFLS). My hypothesis is that such policy and the violence triggered affected weight related outcomes by inducing stress as well as by affecting food consumption and physical activity behaviors. I estimate a generalized difference in difference model that exploits the presumably exogenous regional variations in the number of military operations while controlling for selective migration. My results indicate that military operations affect weight positively, increasing overweight although not to the extent of inducing obesity. Using a score designed to diagnose depression provides evidence of emotional well-being potentially leading these effects. Exploring other potential mechanisms, I cannot rule out that food expenditures and reductions in physical activity are potential drivers, but estimates are mostly insignificant. In line with recent findings, observed changes could be the result from alterations in metabolism due to stress.

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