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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality

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  • Gregory, Christian
  • Ver Ploeg, Michele
  • Andrews, Margaret
  • Coleman-Jensen, Alisha

Abstract

Recent research has shown that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) effectively reduces food insecurity. Questions remain, however, about the extent to which SNAP affects the quality of adult participants’ diets. These questions have surfaced in the context of the increasing public costs of diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and heart disease, and have led to discussions about restricting the use of SNAP benefits to purchase some food items. This report examines Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores for adults in low-income households that do and do not participate in SNAP. To disentangle the choice of whether to participate in SNAP from diet choices, this model uses a unique data set that matches State-level SNAP policy variables to individual-level data from four waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Two important kinds of results emerge: the effect of SNAP on the diet quality of those who choose to enroll, and a total comparison of SNAP participants and nonparticipants after SNAP’s effects are taken into account. On the first, this report shows that SNAP participation results in a large increase in the likelihood of consuming whole fruit and a slightly lower consumption of dark green/orange vegetables. On the second, the report finds that SNAP participants have slightly lower HEI scores (both total and components) than nonparticipants, meaning that they have slightly lower diet quality. They do, however, consume less saturated fat and sodium than nonparticipants.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory, Christian & Ver Ploeg, Michele & Andrews, Margaret & Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, 2013. "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality," Economic Research Report 262225, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:262225
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.262225
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carlson, Andrea & Frazao, Elizabeth, 2012. "Are Healthy Foods Really More Expensive? It Depends on How You Measure the Price," Economic Information Bulletin 142357, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    2. Elton Mykerezi & Bradford Mills, 2010. "The Impact of Food Stamp Program Participation on Household Food Insecurity," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1379-1391.
    3. Newman, Constance, 2006. "Income Volatility Complicates Food Assistance," Amber Waves:The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, pages 1-6, September.
    4. Caroline Ratcliffe & Signe-Mary McKernan & Sisi Zhang, 2011. "How Much Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reduce Food Insecurity?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1082-1098.
    5. Zagorsky, Jay L. & Smith, Patricia K., 2009. "Does the U.S. Food Stamp Program contribute to adult weight gain?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 246-258, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory, Christian A. & Deb, Partha, 2015. "Does SNAP improve your health?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 11-19.
    2. Leschewski, Andrea M. & Weatherspoon, Dave D., 2017. "SNAP Household Food Expenditures Using Non-SNAP Payment Methods," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 259139, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. repec:oup:apecpp:v:38:y:2016:i:4:p:655-672. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Almada, Lorenzo N. & Tchernis, Rusty, 2018. "Measuring effects of SNAP on obesity at the intensive margin," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 150-163.
    5. Melo, Grace & Rabinowitz, Adam N., 2018. "Food Choices of SNAP/WIC Participants at Convenience Stores and Larger Stores," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273844, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Mulik, Kranti & Haynes Maslow, Lindsey, 2016. "Is MyPlate really Affordable? An analysis of SNAP Benefits and the actual cost of eating according to the dietary guidelines," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235924, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Haynes-Maslow, Lindsey & Osborne, Isabel & Jilcott Pitts, Stephanie & Sitaker, Marilyn & Byker-Shanks, Carmen & Leone, Lucia & Maldonado, Adriana & McGuirt, Jared & Andress, Lauri & Bailey-Davis, Lisa, 2018. "Rural corner store owners’ perceptions of stocking healthier foods in response to proposed SNAP retailer rule changes," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 58-66.
    8. March, Raymond J. & Lyford, Conrad P. & Carpio, Carlos E. & Boonsaeng, Tullaya, 2016. "Do SNAP Recipients Get the Best Prices?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 236213, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Mays, Matthew & Smith, Travis A., 2018. "How Does SNAP Participation Affect Rates of Diabetes?," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273905, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Leschewski, Andrea M. & Weatherspoon, Dave D., 2018. "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Current Restricted Expenditures," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 273846, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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