Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Poster Board Number: 40
Objectives The literature on the effects of SNAP on diet quality and obesity has been mixed. The purpose of this study is to (1) estimate the effects of SNAP dollars on the subjective dietary status, nutritional quality of acquired foods, and obesity; and (2) examine whether the effect of SNAP benefit amount is different from that of income from other sources.
Methods Data came from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS), which included detailed records of foods acquired or purchased as well as interview responses from 4,826 nationally representative households. Dependent variables consisted of subjective dietary status, nutritional quality of foods acquired for at-home consumption, and obesity. Linear probability models were estimated with the proportion of household children receiving free or reduced lunch or breakfast as the instrument for SNAP benefit amounts.
Results Whereas income from SNAP had a positive effect on subjective dietary status, it had negative or insignificant effects on objective measures of nutritional quality of foods acquired for at-home consumption and increased the likelihood of obesity. In contrast, income from other sources was associated with higher nutritional quality and lower risk of obesity. Additionally, the positive effects of SNAP dollars on subjective dietary status appeared only if the household had close access to SNAP-authorized supermarkets.
Conclusions SNAP benefits were found to improve subjective diet quality, consistent with the documented effects of SNAP on decreased risk of food insecurity. Our findings regarding objective measures of nutritional quality and obesity, however, along with the finding that SNAP income may have different effects than income from other sources add to the debate over whether SNAP contributes to obesity and nutritional disparity in our society. Additional research on SNAP, diet quality, and obesity is needed to improve food assistance policies and programs.
University of Mississippi