IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Farm subsidies and obesity in the United States: National evidence and international comparisons

  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Sumner, Daniel A.
  • Vosti, Stephen A.

Many commentators have claimed that farm subsidies have contributed significantly to the "obesity epidemic" by making fattening foods relatively cheap and abundant. But U.S. farm policies have generally small and mixed effects on farm commodity prices, which in turn have even smaller and still mixed effects on the relative prices of more- and less-fattening foods. Other factors have had much more influence on reducing the farm prices of food commodities and the consumer prices of food such that any effects of U.S. farm policies on U.S. obesity patterns must have been negligible. Moreover, while many arguments can be made for changing U.S. farm subsidies, even entirely eliminating the current programs could not be expected to have a significant influence on obesity rates. International evidence reinforces this finding. The countries that support their farmers most strongly tend to have relatively low obesity rates. In these countries the main support for farmers comes through trade barriers and higher consumer prices, which--like U.S. policies for sugar, dairy, orange juice, and beef--discourage consumption and reduce obesity. In contrast with agricultural subsidies, agricultural R&D has had a significant effect in the past on the relative price of food commodities and food, and has the potential to influence obesity patterns in the future, but R&D policy is a very blunt instrument for pursuing public health policy objectives.

If 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.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VCB-4T0NGJ3-3/2/ef8e8c4cf79f2110ef53677071802c5d
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 33 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 470-479

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:33:y:2008:i:6:p:470-479
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. James Miller & Keith Coble, 2005. "Cheap Food Policy: Fact or Rhetoric," Others 0506008, EconWPA.
  3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2006. "Are Agricultural Policies Making Us Fat? Likely Links Between Agricultural Policies and Human Nutrition and Obesity, and their Policy Implications," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25343, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  5. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G., 2007. "Public Funding for Research into Specialty Crops," Staff Papers 7312, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  6. Miljkovic, Dragan & Nganje, William & de Chastenet, Helene, 2008. "Economic factors affecting the increase in obesity in the United States: Differential response to price," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 48-60, February.
  7. Kuchler, Fred & Tegene, Abebayehu & Harris, James Michael, 2004. "Taxing Snack Foods: What to Expect for Diet and Tax Revenues," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33607, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  8. Kaushal, N., 2007. "Do food stamps cause obesity?: Evidence from immigrant experience," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 968-991, September.
  9. Ruhm Christopher J, 2007. "Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-28, September.
  10. Leibtag, Ephraim S., 2008. "Corn Records Near Record High, But What About Food Costs?," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, February.
  11. Schroeter, Christiane & Lusk, Jayson & Tyner, Wallace, 2008. "Determining the impact of food price and income changes on body weight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 45-68, January.
  12. Alston, Julian M. & James, Jennifer S., 2002. "The incidence of agricultural policy," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 33, pages 1689-1749 Elsevier.
  13. Chouinard Hayley H & Davis David E & LaFrance Jeffrey T & Perloff Jeffrey M, 2007. "Fat Taxes: Big Money for Small Change," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-30, June.
  14. Stewart, Hayden, 2006. "How Low Has the Farm Share of Retail Food Prices Really Fallen?," Economic Research Report 7241, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  15. Guthrie, Joanne F. & Frazao, Elizabeth & Andrews, Margaret S. & Smallwood, David M., 2007. "Improving Food Choices-Can Food Stamps Do More?," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, May.
  16. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Lin, Biing-Hwan & Mancino, Lisa, 2006. "Food Stamps and Obesity: Ironic Twist or Complex Puzzle?," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, February.
  17. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A., 2007. "Perspectives on Farm Policy Reform," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 32(01), April.
  18. Charles L. Baum II, 2010. "The Effects of Food Stamps on Obesity," Working Papers 201003, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  19. Cash, Sean B. & Sunding, David L. & Zilberman, David, 2004. "Fat Taxes And Thin Subsidies: Prices, Diet, And Health Outcomes," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19961, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  20. Maria L. Loureiro & Rodolfo M. Nayga, 2005. "International Dimensions of Obesity and Overweight Related Problems: An Economics Perspective," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1147-1153.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:33:y:2008:i:6:p:470-479. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.