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* SNAP and Diet Disparities


* Healthy Body Weight Planner



A new Food Policy Review and Intervention Cost-Effectiveness (Food-PRICE) study finds persistent nutritional disparities within the food choices of those receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) compared with those not receiving SNAP assistance. Dietary patterns of SNAP recipients in 2 comparison groups were studied: those whose income qualified them for SNAP but who chose not to participate and those whose income was higher than the SNAP guidelines. Those chosen represented the characteristics of 25.5 million adult SNAP participants, 26.9 million income-eligible nonparticipants, and 158.7 million higher-income US adults. SNAP is the largest program that provides food support for low-wage working families, low-income seniors, and people with disabilities in the United States. It is reauthorized every 5 years as part of the omnibus Farm Bill, the 2018 version that is currently being debated in Congress.


The researchers used data for US adults 20 years or older who had completed at least 1 valid 24-hour diet recall during eight 2-year cycles of the National Health and Examination Survey, through 2014. Based on the American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 Strategic Impact Goals for diet, the research team created a summary score reflecting a diet quality of poor, intermediate, or ideal. A "poor diet" corresponded to less than 40% adherence to the AHA 2020 goals, an "intermediate diet" to 40% to 79.9% adherence, and an "ideal diet" to 80% or greater adherence.


Greater consumption of fruits/vegetables, fish/shellfish, whole grains, and nuts/seeds/legumes and lower consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages, sodium, processed meat, and saturated fat contributed to a better diet score. For the 2003-2004 to 2013-2014 survey group, the average diet score among SNAP participants remained more or less constant. During the same period, however, the average AHA diet score significantly went up in both the other groups: income-eligible nonparticipants and higher-income individuals.


Dietary disparities worsened for several key food groups. Compared with both income-eligible nonparticipants and higher-income individuals, the group of SNAP participants had scores showing smaller reductions in added sugar intake and no appreciable increases in intakes of nuts/seeds or fish/shellfish, but their intakes of processed meats such as hot dogs, deli meats, and sausages rose.


The authors also found that the proportion of SNAP participants among US adults increased from 9% in 1999-2000 to 17% in 2013-2014, which could reflect changes in economic factors-in particular the economic recession during this period-and to a lesser extent changes in SNAP policies in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills that improved accessibility and expanded eligibility. These economic and policy changes moved individuals with greater education and previously higher-income individuals onto SNAP. Because they would generally have better diet quality than participants in SNAP with less education, such population shifts may have made the observed dietary disparities by SNAP participation among US adults even smaller than they would have been otherwise. The study had limitations, including the fact that self-reported dietary intake is subject to measurement error especially in individuals, although it is better for estimating the mean intake of groups. Also, the SNAP participants may have had different benefit levels over time, producing partial misclassification of SNAP participation.


Source: Zhang FF, Liu J, Rehm CD, Wilde P, Mande JR, Mozaffarian D. Trends and disparities in diet quality among US adults by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation status. JAMA Network Open. 2018; doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0237.



The National Institutes of Health Body Weight Planner has moved from the US Department of Agriculture SuperTracker Web page to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Web site at the new link We just hope that the movers preserved the link to the SuperTracker, which those planning their food intakes also need to use!


The Body Weight Planner is a free, interactive tool developed by NIDDK researchers that can help people create physical activity and calorie plans to reach their goal weight and maintain it afterward. The tool uses science-based technology to tailor recommendations to individual users and accurately calculate how their bodies adjust to changes in diet and physical activity.


To try the planner, visit the new page. And for help in using the tool, try the short instructional video at