The Effects of the Food Stamp Program on Energy Balance and Obesity
AbstractThe Food Stamp Program (FSP) administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the cornerstone of the U.S. federal income and food safety net policy. The FSP has subsidized the food budget for millions of American households for over forty years, spending more than $60 billion per year in recent times. Prior research has demonstrated that women who participate in the FSP are more likely to be overweight or obese than eligible non-participants. This finding raises the concern that the additional income provided by FSP benefits induces participants to eat significantly more calories and gain weight, contributing to the U.S. obesity epidemic. Previous studies of the FSP have yielded mixed results. In this study we develop new conceptual and empirical models linking FSP participation, calorie consumption, physical activity, and weight gain, while controlling for genetic variation, weight history, and other physiological characteristics of individuals. The models enable us to test whether participants gained more weight, ate more calories, or engaged less in physical activity; or if previously omitted variables and individual health characteristics explain the higher prevalence of obesity among female FSP participants. We find a positive relationship between FSP participation and weight gain for a small subset of women. We do not find convincing evidence for the hypothesis that FSP participation causes obesity by increasing caloric consumption, decreasing physical activity, or some combination of the two. Our findings suggest that a positive association between FSP and weight exists, but we find no evidence of a direct causal link from one to the other. The association between weight and FSP likely results from confounding factors that make individuals more likely both to gain weight and to participate in the FSP.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with number 103537.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Phone: (414) 918-3190
Fax: (414) 276-3349
Web page: http://www.aaea.org
More information through EDIRC
Food Stamp Program (FSP); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); obesity; body mass index (BMI); nutrition assistance; Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; Health Economics and Policy; Q18; H53; I12; I18; I38;
Other versions of this item:
- Parks, Joanna C. & Smith, Aaron D. & Alston, Julian M., 2011. "The Effects of the Food Stamp Program on Energy Balance and Obesity," 2011 Conference (55th), February 8-11, 2011, Melbourne, Australia 100692, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
- Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
- H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
- I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Production
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Ver Ploeg, Michele & Mancino, Lisa & Lin, Biing-Hwan & Wang, Chia-Yih, 2007. "The vanishing weight gap: Trends in obesity among adult food stamp participants (US) (1976-2002)," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 20-36, March.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.