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

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

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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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B73DX-4WC116P-1/2/c990e1d662df3d4f77b3f044142b9dfb
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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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  8. 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.
  9. Charles L. Baum II, 2010. "The Effects of Food Stamps on Obesity," Working Papers 201003, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
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  16. 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.
  17. 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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