Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Committee Chair

Tesfa Gebremedhin

Committee Co-Chair

Cheryl Brown


Obesity is a major health problem in the United States (U.S.) and approximately 34 percent of the U.S. adult population is obese. Studies using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and many other research findings warn that if the current trend of obesity continues, 50 percent of the U.S. population will be obese in 2030. Unfortunately, several diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes (type II), hypertension, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and some psychological disorders are linked with obesity. Obesity increases the risk of premature mortality, and nearly 300,000 annual deaths are associated with obesity in the U.S. The economic burden associated with obesity is remarkably high. The magnitude of the health impacts of obesity depends on the levels of obesity-related diseases, socioeconomic factors, behavioral factors, environmental factors and geographical characteristics of a particular region. The main objective of this study is to examine health implications and costs of adult obesity in the Appalachian region. Appalachia is an economically less-developed region. It consists of 420 counties in 13 states and reports high rates of obesity compared to the rest of the U.S.;The theoretical models and arguments of the study are developed within the context of a consumer's utility maximization model based on a household production function. The empirical models and analyses are conducted at the county level as well as at an individual level, using a system of simultaneous equations and logit analyses. Three-stage least squares (3SLS) estimations were used for the simultaneous equations. The main source of data is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's BRFSS. The statistical package of STATA is used to run the analyses.;The empirical results of the county level analyses reveal that obesity and obesity-related diseases are increasing in Appalachia, indicating that the healthcare sector has failed to control obesity even as incomes have been increasing. Importantly, results indicate potential reductions of obesity and obesity-related diseases with increasing employment opportunities. Individual level analyses using logit estimations show a potential high risk of asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension with the occurrence of obesity. Almost all logit estimations highlight the potential benefits of increasing income and employment opportunities along with higher education to reduce obesity and obesity-related diseases.;The cost estimations for all diseases show a {dollar}14.7 billion healthcare cost linked to adult obesity. This is nearly 1.4 percent of total GDP of the Appalachian region in 2009. Results further reveal the potential gains of reducing obesity compared to national and federal obesity rate targets.;An individual level analysis examining the potential use of reduced calorie intake and engaging in more physical activities indicates that these two behaviors could be used to significantly reduce obesity in Appalachia as long as there are adequate recreational facilities.