This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Understanding Eating Behavior: How to improve it




Zhao, HaiYue

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation



Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



The relation between education and health has been well established in the literature, especially as it pertains to chronic diseases like obesity. But, due to data limitations, most extant research lacks a direct explanation of unhealthy eating behavior. The current study examines this relationship among a diverse set of compositional place indicators with direct measurement of healthy and unhealthy eating behavior across census block groups in the United States. Using data compiled from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Census’ American Community Survey, SafeGraph mobile device ping data, and web-scraped restaurant characteristics, we examine the relationships between education, obesity, and the number of patrons at healthy and unhealthy eating establishments in the United States. Results obtained through various alternative empirical models confirm the effect of education on unhealthy eating habits. Regardless of data groups, people who reside in areas with low education show higher frequencies of unhealthy eating behaviors. These results contribute to previous studies on the reduced health status in low-educated geographical locations. The results point to important policy implications for mitigating obesity and improving healthy eating by geographical variation.