Three Essays on Obesity

Food Environment, Attitudes toward Food, and Cash Transfers

by Nelly Josefina Mejia Gonzalez

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This dissertation analyzes determinants of obesity and a cash transfer policy to alleviate poverty and its effects on obesity. I used data from the United States and Mexico to highlight evidence from two countries that are neighbors but very different in their socio-economic makeup. In the first chapter, I examined the relationship between the number and type of food outlets in a neighborhood and dietary intake and body mass index (BMI) among adults in Los Angeles County. I also assessed whether this relationship depends on the geographic size of the food environment. In the second chapter, I investigated pathways linking consumer attitudes toward food (nutrition, taste, freshness, and preparation time) and BMI through physical activity and diet quality among adults in the United States. I found that the importance of nutrition relative to price is the only consumer attitude significantly associated with BMI and diet quality. In the third chapter, I analyzed the effects of a cash transfer program on the obesity and diet of a highly-vulnerable group in a middle income country: persons aged 70 and older in Mexico.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Neighborhood Food Environment, Diet, and Obesity among Los Angeles County Adults

  • Chapter Two

    Association between Consumer Attitudes toward Food, Body Mass Index, Healthy Eating Index, and Physical Activity among Adults in the United States

  • Chapter Three

    A Cash Transfer Program for Older Persons in Yucatan, Mexico: Effects on Obesity

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in May 2016 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Emma Aguila (Chair), Krishna Kumar, and Roland Sturm.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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