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Title page for ETD etd-07162012-132251

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Niemesh, Gregory Thomas
URN etd-07162012-132251
Title The Economic and Health Benefits of Iron Fortification in the United States
Degree PhD
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William J Collins Committee Chair
Douglas Heimburger Committee Member
Jeremy Atack Committee Member
Kathryn Anderson Committee Member
  • iron deficiency
  • fortification
  • enrichment
  • fetal origins
Date of Defense 2012-06-26
Availability unrestricted
Iron deficiency reduces productive capacity in adults and impairs cognitive development in children. The effects of childhood iron deficiency might extend into adulthood, manifested as lower income or heighted risk of mortality and chronic diseases. In 1943, the United States government issued War Food Order No. 1, which required the fortification of bread with iron to reduce iron deficiency in the working age population during World War II. The almost universal fortification of grain products increased per capita consumption of iron by 16 percent. This dissertation documents the health and economic impacts of one of the first large-scale public health initiatives aimed at nutrition. I begin with an historical account of the prevalence of iron deficiency in the United States, and the events in the public health profession and federal government that led to the federally mandated artificial addition of nutrients into a commonly consumed staple food. I use the exogenous timing of the federal law and cross-place variation in dietary iron consumption before the order to measure the short- and long-term impacts of the fortification program.
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