Original Paper

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 245-256

First online:

Prices of Unhealthy Foods, Food Stamp Program Participation, and Body Weight Status Among U.S. Low-Income Women

  • Qi ZhangAffiliated withSchool of Community and Environmental Health, Old Dominion University Email author 
  • , Zhuo ChenAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
  • , Norou DiawaraAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics, Old Dominion University
  • , Youfa WangAffiliated withDepartment of International Health, Center for Human Nutrition, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

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This paper examines the interactive effect between the price of unhealthy foods and Food Stamp Program participation on body weight status among low-income women in the United States. We merged the panel data of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort in 1985–2002 and the Cost of Living Index data compiled by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association by using geographic identifiers. Using the merged data, we used panel econometric models to examine the impact of unhealthy food prices on the food stamp-eligible U.S. population. Our results indicate that higher prices for unhealthy food can partially offset the positive association between Food Stamp Program participation and bodyweight among low-income women.


Body mass index Food prices Food stamp program Obesity Socioeconomic status