Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 245–256 | Cite as

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

  • Qi ZhangEmail author
  • Zhuo Chen
  • Norou Diawara
  • Youfa Wang
Original Paper


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 



This research was funded by a USDA/ERS Research Innovation and Development Grant in Economics (RIDGE) jointly with the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University. Dr. Zhang was also funded by the National Institute of Child and Human Development (1R03HD056073). We thank Professors Harold Pollack, PhD, and Willard Manning, PhD, for their useful comments. Editorial assistance from Ms. C. Kay Smith, MS, is greatly appreciated. We also appreciate the comments from two anonymous reviewers. Dr. Wang is also supported by the NIH/NIDDK (R01DK81335-01A1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qi Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhuo Chen
    • 2
  • Norou Diawara
    • 3
  • Youfa Wang
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Community and Environmental HealthOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  2. 2.Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  4. 4.Department of International HealthCenter for Human Nutrition, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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