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Overweight and obese
individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions,
including but not limited to the following: hypertension; osteoarthritis;
dyslipidemia; type 2 diabetes; coronary heart
disease and stroke. Consequently, individuals who are obese are more
likely to use health services and are more likely
to use costly health services than non-obese individuals. Between 1987
and 2001, growth in obesity related health expenditures accounted for 27
percent of the growth in inflation-adjusted per capita health care spending.
Researchers, popular press and the television news media have paid considerable
attention to the effect that farm subsidies have on dietary habits and obesity.
Prominent researchers in the field have
concluded that US farm subsidies have had a negligible impact on obesity. However, even small increases in obesity rates are associated with higher health care
expenditures. The primary intent of this study is to break down the linkages
from farm subsidy to health expenditure and shed light on the unintended implications
of the farm subsidy program. We find that agricultural subsidies have the
potential to influence health care expenditures.