Unfortunately, the reason for the narrowing gap is that the risk of obesity has been worsening for low-income nonparticipant women, while it has been holding steady at a high level for women who participate in the Food Stamp Program.
In the February issue of the agency's Amber Waves magazine, Michele Ver Ploeg, Lisa Mancino, and Biing-Hwan Lin wrote:
Among women, food stamp participants are not getting relatively heavier over time. Rather, BMI has grown more among eligible nonparticipants -- and even among women with higher incomes -- than for food stamp recipients. This is especially true for non-Hispanic White women. In 1976-80 and 1988-94, White women who participated in food stamps had greater BMI and were more likely to be overweight and obese than eligible nonparticipants and those with higher incomes. By 1999-2002, these differences had largely disappeared; the only exception was that White women in the moderate/high income group were still less likely to be obese than food stamp recipients. The closing of the BMI gap is due to changes in weight status by nonparticipatingng women -- the average BMI of food stamp recipients remained steady. For non-Hispanic Black women and Mexican-American women, the trends are not as striking, but the general picture is the same.Among Non-Hispanic White women, body mass index (BMI) has held steady for Food Stamp Program participants while continuing to increase for nonparticipants.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service