Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Michael Thomsen

Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga

Second Committee Member

Michael Thomsen

Third Committee Member

Bruce L. Dixon

Keywords

Social sciences; Health and environmental sciences; ArcGIS; Childhood obesity; Dollar store; Food environment; Grocery store; Spatial panel

Abstract

This thesis examines whether children's food environment, especially food stores that have fresh produce, affects obesity prevalence among elementary school children in the state of Arkansas. Misclassified food outlet types in the Dun and Bradstreet commercial data set were first corrected and then food environment measures were computed and aggregated to geographic regions corresponding to school attendance areas. After applying classical panel estimation, it was found that the fixed effects model fit the data best. Results indicate that an additional supermarket within a one-mile radial of the census neighborhood block center will bring down childhood obesity prevalence by 0.58 percent, whereas associations between densities of supermarkets within farther buffers and children's overweight status were not found. In addition, distance from neighborhood block center to closest supermarkets did not seem to play a role in determining children's BMI, nor did presence of dollar, convenience and drug stores. Finally, fixed effects models incorporating spatial lags and spatial errors were estimated. Results showed no significant spatial effects.

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