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Authors: Zitkovsky, Helen
Advisors: Reichman, Nancy E.
Department: Economics
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: An estimated 29.1 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes today. Growing concern has lead to policies targeting obesity, the overconsumption of fast food, and decreased physical activity. Yet despite growing obesity and diabetes rates, fourteen percent of American households are unable to obtain adequate food resources and are categorized food insecure. Perhaps food insecurity in fact limits household ability to maintain a healthy diet and prevent diabetes. This study examines evidence of the socioeconomic gradient in health as well as the food insecurity-paradox to obtain a better understanding of the health consequences associated with low socioeconomic status. Limited findings in health literature, specifically those of Seligman et al. (2010) and Holben and Pheley (2006) suggest that food insecurity leads to increased risk of diabetes. I use seven waves of the National Health and Nutrition Survey from 1999 to 2012 to examine the hypothesis that food insecurity increases the risk of diabetes development in adults and then attempt to isolate the role of obesity and carbohydrate and sugar consumption in this relationship. The results confirm my hypothesis and suggest evidence of an increase in diabetes risk associated with food insecurity. Severe food insecurity has a larger effect on diabetes risk in men than in women. No conclusive evidence supports hypothesis that increased diabetes prevalence among the food insecure operates through greater sugar or carbohydrate consumption. As a result, this study provides novel findings to fill a gap in the economic literature regarding diabetes. However, limitations including variable diabetes and nutrient measures as well as the cross-sectional nature of the data raise caution to a causal relationship and open room for future investigation.
Extent: 109 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2017

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