Food Assistance and Obesity

Michele Ver Ploeg

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Food Assistance and Obesity


This chapter summarizes the evidence of the relationship between food assistance programs and obesity. It concentrates on the largest U.S. food assistance programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the two school meals programs, and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Empirical evidence of the relationships between these programs and obesity is then elaborated. The chapter also reports the changes to the programs' rules and practices that have been proposed or implemented in order to address obesity and poor nutrition. There is a positive link between the National School Lunch Program and obesity and body mass index, but the evidence is not universal. Evidence suggests that the School Breakfast Program may have a protective effect against obesity. The new WIC food package is a potential tool for reshaping part of the diets of low-income, nutritionally vulnerable groups by encouraging fruit and vegetable, whole grain, and other healthy food consumption.

Keywords: obesity; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance; WIC; poor nutrition; School Lunch Program; School Breakfast Program; body mass index

Article.  7944 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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