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Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs and Obesity: 1976-2002

  • Ver Ploeg, Michele
  • Mancino, Lisa
  • Lin, Biing-Hwan

The Food Stamp Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) address poor nutrition among low-income adults, infants, and children in the United States. Higher rates of obesity among the populations these programs serve have led to concern that the programs may, ironically, contribute to the problem. To analyze the relationships between program participation and body weight, the study used cross-sectional data spanning the period 1976-2002. The authors compared participants with nonparticipants subdivided into three income categories: income-eligible for food and nutrition assistance, moderate income, and higher income. Results were most striking for adult women receiving food stamps. The most recent data showed that, in contrast to prior years, women food stamp participants had a Body Mass Index similar to that of income-eligible nonparticipating women and women with moderate incomes and were no more likely to be overweight or obese. For other sex and age groups, the associations between program participation and weight were inconsistent over time and varied by race and ethnicity. These variations illustrate the difficulty of using cross-sectional data to establish causal relationships between food and nutrition assistance program participation and weight status.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/55965
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Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Economic Research Report with number 55965.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:55965
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  1. Jay Bhattacharya & Janet Currie, 2001. "Youths at Nutrition Risk: Malnourished or Misnourished?," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 483-522 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Smith, Patricia K. & Bogin, Barry & Bishai, David, 2005. "Are time preference and body mass index associated?: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 259-270, July.
  3. J. P. Ziliak & C. Gundersen & D. N. Figlio, . "Welfare Reform and Food Stamp Caseload Dynamics," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1215-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  4. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  5. Wilde, Parke E. & McNamara, Paul E. & Ranney, Christine K., 2002. "The Effect On Dietary Quality Of Participation In The Food Stamp And Wic Programs," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33837, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  6. David N. Figlio & Craig Gundersen & James P. Ziliak, 2000. "The Effects of the Macroeconomy and Welfare Reform on Food Stamp Caseloads," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(3), pages 635-641.
  7. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  8. 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.
  9. Marianne Bitler & Janet Currie, 2004. "Medicaid at Birth, WIC Take Up, and Children's Outcomes," Working Papers 172, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  10. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2006. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 133-148, Winter.
  11. Parke E. Wilde & Christine K. Ranney, 2000. "The Monthly Food Stamp Cycle: Shooping Frequency and Food Intake Decisions in an Endogenous Switching Regression Framework," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(1), pages 200-213.
  12. Robert Breunig & Indraneel Dasgupta, 2005. "Do Intra-Household Effects Generate the Food Stamp Cash-Out Puzzle?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 552-568.
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