Food Stamps and Obesity: What Do We Know?

37 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2009

See all articles by Michele L. Ver Ploeg

Michele L. Ver Ploeg

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Katherine L. Ralston

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Date Written: March 1, 2008

Abstract

Results from reviewed studies indicate that for most participants in the Food Stamp Program - children, nonelderly men, and the elderly-use of food stamp benefits does not result in an increase in either Body Mass Index (BMI) or the likelihood of being overweight or obese. However, for nonelderly women, who account for 28 percent of the food stamp caseload, some evidence suggests that participation in the Food Stamp Program may increase BMI and the probability of obesity. Different results for age and sex subgroups remain unexplained. Further, because food stamp benefits are issued to households, not individuals, mixed results across age and sex subgroups make it difficult to target policy alternatives to address potential weight gain among some participants while not affecting others in the household.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, obesity, Body Mass Index

Suggested Citation

Ver Ploeg, Michele L. and Ralston, Katherine L., Food Stamps and Obesity: What Do We Know? (March 1, 2008). Economic Information Bulletin No. 34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1354190 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1354190

Michele L. Ver Ploeg (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

1800 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036-5831
United States

Katherine L. Ralston

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
202-694-5463 (Phone)

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