Welfare Participants Not Driving Up Obesity Rates, Report Shows

Filed under: Study — @ January 10, 2007


Kennedy says welfare programs are not increasing obesity

A new report is debunking a popular myth that poverty is actually leading to an increase in the rates of obesity in the United States. I addressed this issue somewhat back in September 2006 in this column which may be worth revisiting in light of this new report.

The lead author of the report is Eileen T. Kennedy, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science at the Boston, MA-based Tufts University, who looked at data regarding the participants in such government-funded programs as Food Stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (aka WIC) which come directly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With doubling obesity rates resulting in a tripling in the costs of Medicare, this is a poignant topic for serious discussion.

We’ve discussed the issue of affordability of healthy food for the poor before and whether obesity should be confronted as a society or if it is the personal responsiblity of the individual. The bottom line on obesity-fighting efforts is that they be reasonably realistic to actually work, especially among the poor.

But the lingering school of thought that still exists out there about low-income families has been that the nutritionally poor food options that are available to them on such programs is actually leading participants to gain weight. That was the purpose of creating the report entitled “Creating Healthy States: Building Healthier Nutrition Programs” which was presented with input from both Democrats and Republicans through the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

Click here to read what Kennedy and her fellow co-authors have proposed the USDA do to help deal with the growing obesity epidemic among participants in government-assistance nutritional welfare programs and whether those ideas will actually work.

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