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U Of I Ag Economist Says SNAP’s Connection To Obesity Overblown

Portrait of Craig Gundersen

U of I Economist Craig Gundersen is one of the authors of the new book, "SNAP Matters." University of Illinois

Recent news stories have noted that those enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, have a higher rate of obesity than the general population.  Does that mean the program causes obesity?  One University of Illinois professor says the answer to that question is, "no."

Craig Gundersen, an economist with the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES), is one of the authors of the new book, "SNAP Matters," which looks at the programs effect on health and well-being.

Gundersen wrote a chapter of the book titled "SNAP and Obesity," and says the program itself does not cause obesity.

"Most credible studies have found that there's no relationship between SNAP and obesity," he said.  "SNAP is not randomly distributed among the low-income population.  Some people choose to go into SNAP.  Other people choose not to go into SNAP, so you have to carefully control for this selection."