Start Date: April 2011

ID #: CAS006

Organization: Harvard University School of Public Health

Project Lead: Walter Willett, MD, MPH, DrPH

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Given the significant reach and service the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food assistance program has for lower-income populations most vulnerable to food insecurity and poor nutrition, there is an urgent need to obtain data about the nutrition of children who participate in SNAP to determine what foods are being consumed. This analysis was designed to provide important evidence about the types and amounts of foods and nutrients consumed by children enrolled in the SNAP program, thereby helping to underscore the importance of SNAP in encouraging the purchase of healthier foods as a key component of reversing childhood obesity in this vulnerable population. Initially, the project team members reviewed the scientific literature for the effects of SNAP participation on dietary intake, types of food consumed, and obesity rates as compared to lower-income individuals who are not enrolled in the program. The team then conducted a statistical review and analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1998-2008 to determine the effect of the program’s current structure on the nutrition of its child and adolescent beneficiaries.

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