Graduation Year

Fall 2011

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John J. Pitney, Jr.

Reader 2

Gregory Hess

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Over the past four decades, obesity in the United States has risen to record levels. Co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke will impose over twenty trillion dollars of economic burden over the next two decades. More than half that sum will be direct medical expenses. Under current entitlement programs, governments, and ultimately taxpayers, will be responsible for about 43 percent of that. Even with all this spending, millions of lives will be cut short. Dietary factors are largely to blame. This thesis explores how policy interventions to encourage healthy diet and discourage healthy diet can be projected to affect future healthcare spending. It assesses six dietary factors to determine whether there is sufficient research to determine how much economic disease burden they will impose. Among those for which such research exists, the thesis estimates the cost-effectiveness of interventions such as education, subsidies, taxes and legislative bans.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.