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Does the U.S. Food Stamp Program contribute to adult weight gain?

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  • Zagorsky, Jay L.
  • Smith, Patricia K.

Abstract

Obesity poses substantial costs both to the individual and society, mainly through its impact on health and labor productivity. Because obesity is more prevalent among the poor some have raised concerns that food assistance programs may encourage excess weight. This paper investigates whether the U.S. Food Stamp Program contributes to adult participants' weight as measured by body mass index (BMI). Results suggest that the typical female food stamp participant's BMI is indeed more than 1 unit higher than someone with the same socioeconomic characteristics who is not in the program. For the average American woman, who is 5Â ft 4Â in. (1.63Â m) tall, this means an increase in weight of 5.8Â pounds (2.6Â kg). While this association does not prove that the Food Stamp Program causes weight gain, it does suggest that program changes to encourage the consumption of high-nutrient, low-calorie foods should be considered.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 246-258

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:2:p:246-258

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

Related research

Keywords: BMI Food stamp program SNAP Weight gain Obesity;

References

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  1. Neeraj Kaushal, 2007. "Do Food Stamps Cause Obesity? Evidence from Immigrant Experience," NBER Working Papers 12849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Komlos, John & Baur, Marieluise, 2003. "From the Tallest to (One of) the Fattest: The Enigmatic Fate of the American Population in the 20th Century," Discussion Papers in Economics 76, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Butler, J S & Raymond, Jennie E, 1996. "The Effect of the Food Stamp Program on Nutrient Intake," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(4), pages 781-98, October.
  4. Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2007. "Consumption Reponses to In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Introduction of the Food Stamp Program," Working Papers 0711, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  5. Zagorsky, Jay L., 2005. "Health and wealth: The late-20th century obesity epidemic in the U.S," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 296-313, July.
  6. Janet Currie, 2003. "U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 199-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  8. Zhuo Chen & Steven T. Yen & David B. Eastwood, 2005. "Effects of Food Stamp Participation on Body Weight and Obesity," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1167-1173.
  9. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
  10. DeCicca, Philip & McLeod, Logan, 2008. "Cigarette taxes and older adult smoking: Evidence from recent large tax increases," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 918-929, July.
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  12. Parke E. Wilde & Paul E. McNamara & Christine K. Ranney, 1999. "The Effect of Income and Food Programs on Dietary Quality: A Seemingly Unrelated Regression Analysis with Error Components," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(4), pages 959-971.
  13. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
  14. Chad D. Meyerhoefer & Yuriy Pylypchuk, 2008. "Does Participation in the Food Stamp Program Increase the Prevalence of Obesity and Health Care Spending?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(2), pages 287-305.
  15. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1995. "Price, Tobacco Control Policies and Smoking Among Young Adults," NBER Working Papers 5012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  17. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Ralston, Katherine L., 2008. "Food Stamps and Obesity: What Do We Know?," Economic Information Bulletin 58640, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  18. Breunig, Robert & Dasgupta, Indraneel & Gundersen, Craig & Pattanaik, Prasanta, 2001. "Explaining The Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33869, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gregory, Christian A. & Ver Ploeg, Michele & Andrews, Margaret S. & Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, 2012. "SNAP and Diet Quality: An Instrumental Variables Approach," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124757, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. Nicholas, Lauren Hersch, 2011. "Can Food Stamps help to reduce Medicare spending on diabetes?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-13, January.
  3. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2012. "The impact of long‐term participation in the supplemental nutrition assistance program on child obesity," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 386-404, 04.
  4. Han, Euna & Powell, Lisa M. & Pugach, Oksana, 2011. "The heterogenous relationship of food stamp participation with body mass: Quantile regression model," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 499-506, August.
  5. Han, Euna & Powell, Lisa M. & Isgor, Zeynep, 2012. "Supplemental nutrition assistance program and body weight outcomes: The role of economic contextual factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 1874-1881.
  6. Zhuo Chen & Qi Zhang, 2011. "Nutrigenomics Hypothesis: Examining the Association Between Food Stamp Program Participation and Bodyweight Among Low-Income Women," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 508-520, September.

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