The Food Stamps User’s Dilemma
I love a good paradox, dont you? And sometimes I like to take mine with a side of situational irony.
A recent study appearing in this months journal of Economics and Human Biology as reported by Science Daily concludes that the US Food Stamp Program has actually been shown to contribute directly to weight gain. The studys researchers found that food stamp users had an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 1.15 points higher than those not enrolled in the program. In laypersons terms this would be a weight gain of about 5.8 pounds. Also, the BMI of those studied tended to increase at faster rates, and the biggest weight gains were witnessed amongst female study participants.
Now the irony lies, of course, in the fact that the Food Stamp Program is meant to combat basic hunger by facilitating food consumption amongst sensitive populations. Would weight gain not then be considered a positive effect? Isnt it poverty that tends to be a predictor of weight gain and obesity? Shouldnt having access to bread, milk, meat and veggies make you healthier? Shouldnt any food dollar assistance make ones family healthier?
Let us consider, however, our list of Food Stamp allowables which in many ways can be connected to conversations around whats served in school lunches across the country. The basics such as breads, dairy meats, veggies and other staples are covered, but they are generally of a lesser grade (uncouth, discriminatory government cheese jokes anyone?). Certainly food stamps can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, but they can also purchase convenient frozen, prepared and high-fat products. Organics are only minimally allowed if at all with restrictions varying state-to-state, and food stamps still widely cover unhealthy, high-fat creations such as Lunchables and other food monstrosities.
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