National Nutrition Month: FRE faculty member Dr. Di Fang works to bridge the gap between food, health, and the environment through applied agricultural economics.

Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the United States, National Nutrition Month is celebrated annually in March. Dr. Di Fang, associate professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida, knows well the importance of nutrition and its interconnectedness with other health issues, as it has been the focal point of her research program.  

She sees applied agricultural economics research as vital for its ability to bridge the gap between food, health, and the environment. 

“It is relevant to all of us in perspectives as small as everyday life and as big as the federal budget,” Fang said. “Especially for minorities and people of low income, which are my areas of focus, there is more research needed in that area to reduce health disparities.”

One such example of these disparities is SNAP purchasing power. SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal program that provides food-purchasing assistance for low-income people. 

Currently, Fang has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for a project in which she and collaborators are looking at the purchasing power of SNAP benefits as it has changed due to inflation, supply chain issues, and food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Her previous research on food security during the COVID-19 pandemic was also cited in the most recent edition of the White House National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.  

Fang’s research, conducted while at the University of Arkansas and published in March 2021, looks at the association between food security and mental health, specifically as evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

By conducting a nationwide survey of low-income Americans that took measures of food insecurity, anxiety, and depression, Fang and her colleagues identified a correlation between food insecurity and anxiety and depression at higher levels even than losing a job during the pandemic.  

Nutrition is a critical part of health and economic development,” Fang said. “Applied research is at the forefront to provide important evidence for policy interventions and community development. 


Alena Poulin
Posted: March 27, 2023

Category: Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS
Tags: Food And Resource Economics

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