WTW: Food Stamp Obesity

USDA awards MTSU professor $120,000 grant to study food stamp use and obesity.

MURFREESBORO — Charles Baum III, an economics professor at Middle Tennessee State University, says people living in poverty in America have undergone a definite physical change over the last 200 years.

Being poor once meant having a thin, frail body type as a result of lack of food. Now, these individuals are more likely to be not just overweight, but obese, he says.

The Old Media reminds us constantly that millions of kids go to bed hungry every night in America. The reality is that the poor in America have it miles better than those in third-world style poverty. This is reflected in the grotesque obesity that is rampant in the AFDC set. But when did our poor go from stick people to marshmallow men?

Baum traces the change to sometime in the 1960s, when obesity rates began to rise. It was around this time that the Food Stamp Act came into being, which provided food to those living below the poverty level. The idea of a connection between food stamps and obesity has caught the interest of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the agency recently awarded Baum a $120,000 grant to study the relationship of the Food Stamp Program to the rise of obesity.

”It’s a two-year study,” Baum said. ”The analysis will try to look at two people that are the same in every way except one is on food stamps and one is not. They may both be living in poverty.”

The study will examine whether those using food stamps are more likely to suffer from obesity than those who do not use food stamps.

At the risk of sounding like a big-government lunatic, when someone uses food stamps, they’re actually spending my money (and the money of all of us who actually pay taxes). Therefore, when Larry Lardass goes and buys 96 cans of Coke and 18 industrial-sized bags of Doritos with food stamps/vouchers, the rest of us are funding their bodily expansion, and ultimately their long-term hospitalizations and multiple operations. If I was using someone else’s money to buy my groceries, I’d damn sure be more conscientious than that. That, however, is expecting far too much from the handout classes.

Could this study lead to the restriction of what can be purchased with food stamps?

Richard Dobbs, director of food-stamp policy for Tennessee, said food-stamp recipients aren’t prevented from purchasing items high in fat.

”The only restriction on food stamps is that they must be used for food items,” he said. ”The USDA is the agency that determines what is an eligible food item. It’s almost anything that can be consumed. There’s been attempts in the past to limit what individuals can buy with food stamps, but they’ve really never gone anywhere.”

Baum said he will provide his results to the federal government, but he has no say in setting policy.

He speculated that if a link is shown between issuing food stamps and obesity, the USDA might become stricter in its definition of food items, eliminating unhealthy choices such as sodas.

Sounds like the results of this study will fall on the usual deaf ears.


  1. one would think when a person is on food stamps they would be purchasing groceries that require cooking from stratch instead of the expensive, high calorie, high sodium, high fat, premade stuff. buying flour and meats and veggies that can be stretched would, not only put more food in their bellies, but it would be healthier.

    i’m not really sure why they do not grasp this concept. the only thing i can think of is lack of education and laziness. and to be honest, i didn’t think food stamps covered junk food.

  2. It’s not just the food stamp program, which I agree should be limited to certain types of foods being available.

    Think about it, what is the cheapest food you can buy today? Ramen noodles (extreme amounts of sodium) Macaroni and Cheese (carbs galore) and any of the various and sundry “Value/Dollar/Bargain” menus the fast food poisoners are offering up.

    These days, fat is cheap. Eating healthy takes money.

    WIC is more along the lines of what the food stamp program should be about (btw, I was a food stamp worker for 3 1/2 years) WIC ensures that the food being bought meets certain standards of health and nutrition. Some may say adults should be able to choose what they eat, but not, as you point out, if they’re buying it on our dime. Make it to where only certain foods can be bought with food stamps, and the blame is off the food stamp program. What the poor choose to buy with the rest of their money is on them.

  3. It’s pretty expensive to live the low-carb lifestyle I lead now, with fresh veggies and meats. When I was in college, the cheapest stuff I could eat was ramen, macaroni & cheese, rice-a-roni and pasta with various flavors of Prego sauce.

    And that…explains why I was 40 lbs. heavier in college than I am now.

    BUT…I was also lazy in college and didn’t want to take the thirty minutes to plan, shop for and buy the veggies that are in season and on sale…or take advantage of buying meat in bulk or otherwise on sale.

    So yeah, carbs are cheaper…but you can create good food from scratch on a budget…you just need to exert a little bit of EFFORT to do so. When I was a kid, my mom would go to three different grocery stores to make sure she bought absolutely everything on sale…more bang for her buck.

    Not to say she never bought Doritos but, you get my point.

  4. Thank you Stacy, that was the point I was trying to make.

    Pound for pound it’s still cheaper to buy groceries and make food yourself. Will you be eating super healthy, maybe not, but it would be healthier than the prepackaged crap you’d be stuffing your face with. One would think someone on food stamps would be the penny pinchers in trying to get more food for their money -by buying foods that they would be able to make stretch – rice, beans, meats and veggies for stew, etc. How much does one receive in food stamps for a standard family, anyway? Perhaps they are receiving too much; make them stretch their food stamp for what it was intended, the basics.

  5. My wife an I get WIC, even though we don’t really need it, but it’s an essential food list – cereal, milk, peanut butter, cheese & juice. You can survive very well on that shit.

    When I was a cashier at Wal-Mart (back in the day) people used to use food stamps for shit. They’d buy chips, cookies, soda & more crap. Some morons actually tried to buy CD’s and hard goods from time to time. People are idiots and as long as they continue to be idiots they will get fat and die.

  6. It’s cheaper to eat fat these days, but it is possible to eat healthily and stay thin in a tight food budget. It just takes some forethought and effort.

    I wonder what that study will find? I agree that we should limit what can be purchased with food stamps. If they want to buy Ding-Dongs and Big Macs with their own money, fine, but why should any of us be funding their blatant self-destruction?

  7. Wow, I thought there WERE restrictions on what can be purchased with food stamps. Occasionally at the grocery store I run across the WIC Approved labels on certain items. Such labels ought not be on Oreos or cheese in a can. I’ve never paid attention though.

  8. When I worked the Food Stamp program from ’97-2000, the maximum allotment per person was $150 per month. Most major chains know better and don’t let folks buy non-food items with food stamps (There is a seperate set of benefits called TANF that allows for the purchase of non-food household items such as cleaning supplies, detergent, etc.) and NOBODY should be getting CD’s or books, etc. with it. However, some smaller stores could give a crap, as long as they’re getting the money, and will code non-food items in as food for the crafty food stamp recipient. Also, some folks will ‘rent out’ their EBT card and pin for a lesser amount of cash so they can go buy beer and cigs.

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