Published: June 2014

ID #: 71252

Journal: Health Affairs (Millwood)

Authors: Basu S, Seligman HK, Gardner C, Bhattacharya J

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This paper models the potential impact of two proposed policy changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): a ban on using SNAP dollars to buy sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs); and a subsidy structured so that for every SNAP dollar spent on fruits and vegetables, thirty cents is credited back to participants’ SNAP benefits card. Researchers combined data from a nationally representative dietary survey and a price database of nearly 20,000 child and adult SNAP participants to simulate the proposed policies using a combination of economic and epidemiological modeling techniques. Researchers found that banning the use of SNAP dollars for the purchase of SSBs would be expected to significantly reduce obesity prevalence and type 2 diabetes incidence, particularly among adults ages 18 to 65 and among non-Black, non-Mexican ethnic minorities such as other Latinos and Asians. The fruit and vegetable subsidy would not be expected to have a significant effect on obesity prevalence or type 2 diabetes incidence, but it would be expected to significantly increase fruit and vegetable consumption and more than double the proportion of SNAP participants who meet federal fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines.

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