Start Date: February 2014

ID #: 71637

Principal Investigator: Chen Zhen, MS, PhD

Organization: Research Triangle Institute

Funding Round: Round 8

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Some public health advocates and policymakers are proposing restrictions on the types of foods eligible for purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, such as sugary drinks and food products with minimal nutritional value. To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has rejected all such proposals due to lack of research on whether such restrictions would work as intended. The objective of this project is to provide evidence of the likely effects of SNAP food restrictions on child and adult participants’ food choices. The target population is children and adult members of low-income, SNAP-eligible households. Using secondary data on household food purchases and econometric simulation methods, this study will examine the causal pathway(s) through which the SNAP program affects participants’ food choices and nutrition, and the potential impacts of SNAP restrictions and other realistic SNAP policy options. Two models will be estimated: 1) using household food purchase data collected in the nationally representative 2012 USDA Economic Research Service National Food Study, and 2) using the parameter estimates to simulate the effects of SNAP restrictions, changes in the relative prices of specific foods, and SNAP allotment changes on household food purchases and nutrition.

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