This dissertation consists of three essays, each on one emerging public health issue that calls for new policy making. The first essay studies 15,000 adult individuals from a longitudinal dataset, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, collected in China 1991-2006. It explores the effects of food prices on obesity and shows evidence that while obesity corresponds to food prices changes, the effects might not always be accurately captured by Body Mass Index (BMI), but by a more direct measure of body fat – triceps skinfold thickness (TSF). The second essay extends the first essay and focuses on health implications of obesity on outcomes such as hypertension and diabetes. The sample is limited to non-obese individuals with a BMI less than 28. TSF, as a proxy for body fat, is shown to have significant independent effects on health. The third essay looks at unintended consequences of a new drug innovation, Viagra, and its successors, Cialis, and Levitra. It finds that erectile dysfunction (ED) medication users have a higher rate of STDs. Because most ED drug consumers are 40+ males, who are above the typical age range where routine STD tests are recommended, this finding reveals a new health threat to older populations and potentially the general public as a whole.
Table of Contents
The Effects of Relative Food Prices on Obesity - Evidence from China: 1991-2006
Health Implications of Obesity
Sexually transmitted diseases among users of erectile dysfunction drugs