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Likely effects on obesity from proposed changes to the US food stamp program

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  • Alston, Julian M.
  • Mullally, Conner C.
  • Sumner, Daniel A.
  • Townsend, Marilyn
  • Vosti, Stephen A.

Abstract

Some have suggested that the US food stamp program (FSP) should be revised with a view to combating obesity among the poor. In this paper, we assess the likely impacts of allowing FSP participants to purchase only healthy foods when using food stamps. Our results indicate that FSP participants would probably increase their consumption of healthy food, but the implications for their purchases of unhealthy food are not clear. Market-wide consequences are even less clear, because changing what may be purchased using food stamps would lead to higher prices for healthy foods and lower prices for unhealthy foods and these price effects would feed back into consumer decisions, with adverse effects on consumption patterns of both participants and non-participants in the FSP. In addition, more restrictive rules on the use of food stamps would discourage participation in the FSP. We conclude that, while reforming the FSP may indeed to lead to better diets among participants, it is likely to be an ineffective and inefficient instrument for bringing about desired nutritional outcomes unless accompanied by additional policy instruments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alston, Julian M. & Mullally, Conner C. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Townsend, Marilyn & Vosti, Stephen A., 2009. "Likely effects on obesity from proposed changes to the US food stamp program," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 176-184, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:2:p:176-184
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ho, Shuay-Tsyr & Rickard, Bradley J. & Liaukonyte, Jura, 2014. "Economic and Nutritional Implications from Changes in U.S. Agricultural Promotion Efforts," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 46(04), November.
    2. Charles L. Baum & Shin-Yi Chou, 2016. "Why has the prevalence of obesity doubled?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 251-267, June.
    3. Lusk, Jayson L. & Weaver, Amanda, 2017. "An experiment on cash and in-kind transfers with application to food assistance programs," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 186-192.
    4. Charles L. Baum & Shin-Yi Chou, 2011. "The Socio-Economic Causes of Obesity," NBER Working Papers 17423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Dallongeville, Jean & Dauchet, Luc & de Mouzon, Olivier & Réquillart, Vincent & Soler, Louis-Georges, 2010. "Are Fruit and Vegetable Stamp Policies Cost Effective?," IDEI Working Papers 648, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    6. Qi Zhang & Zhuo Chen & Norou Diawara & Youfa Wang, 2011. "Prices of Unhealthy Foods, Food Stamp Program Participation, and Body Weight Status Among U.S. Low-Income Women," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 245-256, June.
    7. Lee, Deishin & Sönmez, Erkut & Gómez, Miguel I. & Fan, Xiaoli, 2017. "Combining two wrongs to make two rights: Mitigating food insecurity and food waste through gleaning operations," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 40-52.

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