Essays on Food and Nutrition Policy
Wright, Melissa Ann
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A large majority of the American population struggles with metabolic disorders including obesity. Policymakers attempt to influence nutrient consumption with different instruments. Effective policy will include how individuals value nutrients. This dissertation is comprised of three essays that examine current policy and the impacts on consumer nutrient intakes, while also providing tools to improve the effectiveness of future policy. The first manuscript investigates the impact of the Food and Drug Administration rounding guidelines on recipe formulation in the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal industry and consequently the impact on consumer nutrient intakes. The analysis focuses on the likelihood and magnitude of rounding energy and macronutrients. The second manuscript uses hedonic price theory and the United States food supply to develop shadow prices and price indices for energy, individual macronutrients and micronutrients from 1910 to 2006. The analysis also includes estimates accounting for farm-to-fork food losses from 1970 to 2006. The third manuscript estimates a system of demand equations using two approaches. The first approach is a Linear Quadratic Incomplete Demand System. The second approach is an Exact Affine Incomplete Demand System. The system of demand equations estimates the demand of a representative consumer for energy, individual macronutrients and individual micronutrients using the United States food supply adjusted for food loss from 1970 to 2006. The demand for energy and nutrients is interdependent on one another. These estimates provide a powerful tool to policymakers that can allow them the opportunity to see the impact on a policy targeted nutrient, and also allows them to see the impact of policy on each specific nutrient.