Youths at Nutritional Risk: Malnourished or Misnourished?
We use data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine the prevalence and determinants of poor nutritional outcomes among American youths. One strength of our analysis is that we focus on an array of nutritional outcomes, and we find in fact that the determinants of these outcomes vary considerably form outcome to outcome. We interpret our results using a model in which investments in health capital are affected by both resource constraints and a human capital production function that summarizes available nutrition information. We find that although many youths suffer from nutrient deficiencies, these conditions are not generally sensitive to measures of resource constraints, and hence are unlikely to be due solely to a shortage of food. Conversely, we find that our proxies for information matter. Our results suggest that broad-based policies designed to alter the composition of the diet may hold the greatest promise for addressing the nutritional problems of American youths.