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Two essays on stress and obesity: household and regional perspectives

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Title: Two essays on stress and obesity: household and regional perspectives
Author(s): Burgstahler, Rebecca
Advisor(s): Gundersen, Craig
Department / Program: Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline: Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.S.
Genre: Masters
Subject(s): Stress Obesity Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program County Employment County Educational Attainment
Abstract: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest nutritional assistance program addressing food insecurity in the United States. Due to the program’s reach, SNAP has been called to address other nutrition-related challenges facing low-income Americans including childhood obesity. The first essay considers the effect of SNAP participation on child weight outcomes including overweight status, depth, and severity. This study controls for the potential influence of household financial stress, an important determinant of child overweight status that disproportionately affects low-income households. In addition, the study employs instrumental variables including county SNAP participation rates and county median income to control for selection into SNAP. Using data from the Survey of Household Finances and Childhood Obesity this study finds that SNAP participation is negatively associated with unhealthy weight outcomes among eligible children. Variations in obesity rates across space also raise questions about the potential role of environmental factors in determining obesity outcomes. To date, much of the literature exploring such factors has emphasized physical aspects of the environment (e.g., access to grocery stores, access to trails, and land use) or the general socioeconomic environment. However, recent work has demonstrated that an important determinant of obesity is stress. Drawing upon neighborhood effects theory and public health theories, the second essay examines the association between regional stress and individual obesity outcomes. This essay uses instrumental variables methods and draws upon the Creative Class regional growth hypothesis to inform the instruments. Using individual-level data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and county-level data from administrative sources, the study finds that county educational stress is a significant predictor of individual body mass index.
Issue Date: 2012-02-01
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29449
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Rebecca Burgstahler
Date Available in IDEALS: 2014-02-01
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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