Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness


Michael Thomsen

Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga

Second Committee Member

Daniel Rainey


Social sciences, Academic achievement, Childhood obesity, Diet quality, Family map, Food store access


This thesis includes two studies on childhood obesity. This first study investigates whether childhood obesity rates affect their academic achievement scores by using a school-level panel data set on Arkansas 4th and 6th grades. The main results indicate that childhood obesity rates do not significantly affect academic achievement scores. Controls for education inputs such as library volume, educational expenditures per student and teacher salary show consistently significant positive relationship to students' test scores in both whole sample and in subsample analyses by socio-economic and minority status. The second study examines the effect of a neighborhood food environment feature, specifically food retailer access on diet quality of young children. Binary and index diet quality measures are developed and proximity and density of food store access measures are computed at the census block level. In general, both proximity and density measures do not have any significant marginal effects on children's diet quality in the baseline model. When using instrumental variable (IV) approach, the food store proximity measure has a strong impact on consumption of fruit and density measure has significant marginal effects on likelihood of having risk of consuming both fruit and vegetables. Parents' mental health indicator of depression has a consistent negative impact on index diet quality measure in the baseline model but not in the IV model.

Included in

Food Security Commons