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Recent Miami grad awarded first place in thesis competition

written by Trevor Jordan, news and communications intern

Kelsey Skvoretz, a May Miami University graduate with a dual degree (bachelor's and master's) in quantitative economics, won best paper and presentation in Bowling Green University's undergraduate economics paper competition.

Kelsey Skvoretz, a May Miami University graduate with a dual degree (bachelor’s and master’s) in quantitative economics, won best paper and presentation in Bowling Green University’s undergraduate economics paper competition in April for her honor’s thesis, “Weighing on the Effectiveness of State Laws on Childhood Obesity: Fat Chance!”

The competition included 24 paper entries by students from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

Skvoretz’ paper/presentation analyzed the correlation of certain state laws that restrict the availability of competitive foods, limit vending sales and specify minimum standards for physical education with high school BMI (body mass index) scores. Her thesis used data compiled from 1999-2009 and involved multiple states.

In her research, Skvoretz, of North Royalton, found that state laws limiting competitive foods and vending sales were directly correlated with reduced BMI, while those that specify nutritional content in available foods/beverages were correlated with an increased BMI. She speculated that when soda sales are limited, children might substitute juice instead. Juice meets the nutritional requirements specified by states, but is still a relatively high calorie beverage, resulting in a higher BMI.

Skvoretz was one of the first graduates of Miami's combined 3+1 economics bachelor's+master's program. Her master’s thesis extended the findings of her honor’s project econometrically and found that students who live in a state where these laws were passed between 1-2 years prior seem to be relatively unaffected. However, students who have lived under these laws for three or more years have lower BMIs than students living in states without similar legislation.

Skvoretz is now an analyst for dunnhumbyUSA, a data analysis firm based in Cincinnati.