Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Jesse Anttila-Hughes


High Fructose Corn Syrup is believed to be responsible for the increase of the obesity epidemic that is affecting both developed and developing countries, yet to date there are no rigorous analyses that quantify this effect. To estimate the impact of consumption of HFCS on obesity, I have paired country-specific data on imports of HFCS from the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) with women and child health data from around 70 countries from 1985 to 2018. The results show that conditional on space and time fixed effects, imports of HFCS with a high concentration of fructose have large and significant positive effects on children’s weight-related outcomes. These effects are mainly concentrated in children older than 12 months who live in an urban area. Among women, my key finding is that a one standard deviation increase in exposure to HFCS imports containing at least 50% of fructose is associated with a 1.1 percentage point increase in the change in probability of being obese.