Do Food Stamps make people fat?
The USDA has just come out with a report looking at the relationship of Food Stamps to obesity. Because rates of obesity are higher among the poor, USDA economists wanted to see if Food Stamps, which raise the amount of money low-income people can spend on food, were associated with higher rates of obesity. They were not, at least for most people, but they were associated with obesity in younger women. I have no idea what to make of this, really. It seems self-evident that having more money – enough money – to spend on food means that people will eat more healthfully. But Food Stamps are notorious for their unreliability in meeting people’s real needs. They typically run out after three weeks, which leaves recipients scrambling to meet food needs during the fourth week of the month. Food Stamps do help to address income disparities, but not nearly enough. I’d like to see the USDA do an experiment: give women enough Food Stamps to really meet their needs and see if diets improve.