Obesity, SNAP, neighborhood effects, poverty, BMI


Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) with family fixed-effects (FE) models, we explore how neighborhood conditions and time receiving SNAP benefits during childhood interact to relate to time spent obese in adulthood. Results suggest that, for those growing up in less advantaged neighborhoods, SNAP receipt between the ages of 9–13 and 14–18 was associated with subsequently shorter periods of time obese in adulthood. Conversely, for those growing up in more advantaged neighborhoods, SNAP receipt during these same late childhood/ adolescent time periods was associated with relatively high proportions of time in adulthood spent obese. SNAP participation during early and middle childhood (ages 0–4 and 5–8) was not associated with time spent obese in adulthood, regardless of childhood neighborhood conditions. These results suggest that for those growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods, where study data indicate the vast majority of SNAP-recipient families reside, SNAP participation during adolescence may serve as a protective factor against adulthood obesity. Expanding research in this area of health and public policy is essential to advancing cost-effective, socially responsible food assistance program policies that can help ameliorate health disparities within communities across the country.

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