Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics & Finance

First Advisor

Chih M. Tan


Many studies have found a negative correlation between obesity and academic achievement; however, determining and reaching a consensus about the nature of causality between these two variables have posed a challenge for scholars and researchers. If obesity does indeed have a negative causal effect on academic achievement, it has significant policy implications as it affects human capital investment. In this paper, I use the National Longitudinal Study of Youth-1979, Child and Young Adult data and estimate OLS, FE, traditional IV, and Lewbel IV models for children ages 5-12, stratified by race and gender. Under an individual fixed-effects model, I find that there are statistically significant, negative effects of being overweight for non-Hispanic/non-black boys, and of being obese for Hispanic/black girls on reading test scores. On the other hand, there seems to be a positive effect of being obese for Hispanic/black boys, though not at conventional levels. These results show the importance of stratifying the study population, not only by gender, but by race when studying obesity effects on academic achievement.