The Sweet Life: The Long-Term Effects of a Sugar-Rich Childhood

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Event Type: 
Seminar Series
Date and Time: 
Monday, May 22, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tadeja Gracner
RAND Corporation

In this paper, we show that a sugar-rich diet early in life has large adverse effects on the health and economic well-being of adults more than fifty years later. Excessive sugar intake early in life led to higher prevalence of chronic inflammation, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and arthritis. It also decreased post-secondary schooling, having a skilled occupation, and accumulating above median wealth. We identified elevated sugar consumption across lifespan as a likely pathway of impact. Exploiting the end of the post-WWII rationing of sugar and sweets in 1953 in the United Kingdom, we used a regression discontinuity design to identify these effects.