Title page for ETD etd-06092010-163323

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Xue, Hong
Author's Email Address hxue@vt.edu
URN etd-06092010-163323
Title Three Essays on Consumer Behavior and Health Outcomes: An Economic Analysis of the Influence of Nutrition Information and Knowledge on Food Purchasing Behavior and the Impacts of Primary Care Givers’ Parenting on Childhood Obesity
Degree PhD
Department Agricultural and Applied Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
You, Wen Committee Chair
Geyer, Leighton L. Committee Member
Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr. Committee Member
Peterson, Everett B. Committee Member
Rankin, Janet L. Walberg Committee Member
  • Willingness-To-Pay
  • Nutrition Knowledge
  • Endogeneity
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Economic Experiment
Date of Defense 2010-05-26
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation is comprised of three essays that investigate consumer behavior and health outcomes. The first essay uses experimental economic techniques to explore consumers’ preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for nutritionally differentiated grass-fed beef. Our findings suggest that consumers’ nutrition knowledge about the functions of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, CLA, and Omega 3 could positively affect their WTP for grass-fed beef while the knowledge about the main food sources of these nutrients negatively affects their WTP for grass-fed beef. Furthermore, a higher sensory evaluation score of grass-fed beef compared to conventional beef will lead to a higher probability for a consumer to choose grass-fed beef and a higher monetary value she/he is willing to pay for grass-fed beef.

Using the same experimental data collected in the first study, the second essay investigates the impacts of consumers’ nutrition knowledge on their WTP by accommodating the potential endogeneity problem using an instrumental variable approach and a non-instrumental variable approach. Our results suggest the existence of the endogeneity of nutrition knowledge and indicate that ignoring the endogeneity problem in econometric modeling will downwardly bias the estimates of the true effects of nutrition knowledge. The estimates obtained from different estimation strategies in the study indicate the robustness of our findings about the effects of nutrition knowledge on consumers’ food purchasing behavior.

The third essay investigates the impacts of primary care giver (PCG)’s time allocation patterns and household food expenditure choices on childhood obesity using the national panel study of income dynamics data. Our results do not suggest significant impacts of PCG’s labor force participation, involvement in children’s outdoor activity, and household food expenditures on children’s Body Mass Index (BMI). However, the estimates from iterated seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) and semi-parametric polynomial estimation indicate that parents’ BMI significantly influence children’s BMI. Interestingly, physical activity appears to have weak correlation with children’s BMI.

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