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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Zagorsky, Jay L. & Smith, Patricia K., 2009. "Does the U.S. Food Stamp Program contribute to adult weight gain?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 246-258, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:2:p:246-258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:31:y:2018:i:c:p:150-163 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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, April.
    3. Almada, Lorenzo N. & Tchernis, Rusty, 2018. "Measuring effects of SNAP on obesity at the intensive margin," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 150-163.
    4. Waehrer, Geetha & Deb, Partha & Decker, Sandra L., 2015. "Did the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act affect dietary intake of low-income individuals?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 170-183.
    5. 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.
    6. Li, Shanjun & Liu, Yanyan & Zhang, Junjie, 2011. "Lose some, save some: Obesity, automobile demand, and gasoline consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 52-66, January.
    7. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:79:y:2018:i:c:p:309-317 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. MacEwan, Joanna P. & Smith, Aaron & Alston, Julian M., 2016. "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, energy balance, and weight gain," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 103-120.
    9. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:30:y:2018:i:c:p:48-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Mays, Matthew & Smith, Travis A., 2018. "How Does SNAP Participation Affect Rates of Diabetes?," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273905, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    11. Gregory, Christian & Ver Ploeg, Michele & Andrews, Margaret & Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, 2013. "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality," Economic Research Report 262225, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    12. Maoyong Fan & Yanhong Jin, 2015. "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Childhood Obesity in the United States: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 432-460, Fall.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Gregory, Christian A. & Deb, Partha, 2015. "Does SNAP improve your health?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 11-19.
    16. 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.
    17. Averett, Susan L. & Smith, Julie K., 2014. "Financial hardship and obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 201-212.
    18. Ecker, Olivier & Al-Riffai, Perrihan & Breisinger, Clemens & El-Batrawy, Rawia, 2016. "Nutrition and economic development: Exploring Egypt's exceptionalism and the role of food subsidies," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 978-0-89629-238-3.
    19. 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.
    20. Renna, F. & Thakur, Nidhi, 2010. "Direct and indirect effects of obesity on U.S. labor market outcomes of older working age adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 405-413, July.

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