Encouraging Healthy Food Purchases: Alternatives to Restricting Choices in SNAP

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May 30, 2012

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While the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides low-income Americans with resources they need to avoid going hungry, it can also be an important contributor to the fight against obesity. Recent research has found that the more SNAP benefits a household received, the more their vegetable, dairy, and meat consumption improved. Low-income Americans who are not participating in the SNAP program or receive relatively low levels of SNAP benefits have been found to be at a significantly higher risk of being overweight or obese than those on the program.

A variety of different strategies have been piloted and evaluated in this area and serve as viable options for improving the diets of the 1.4 million Texas households that currently receive SNAP benefits. Due to its positive effects and widespread use, policymakers and public health professionals have become interested in ways that the SNAP program can encourage the consumption of an even more healthy and balanced diet. This report discusses four ways that the SNAP program could be improved in order to support healthy food choices among its participants. It also touches on the proposal to restrict the purchases of SNAP recipients and the dangers associated with doing so.