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Strategies to improve the dietary quality of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries: an assessment of stakeholder opinions

  • Susan J Blumenthal (a1), Elena E Hoffnagle (a2), Cindy W Leung (a3), Hayley Lofink (a4), Helen H Jensen (a5), Susan B Foerster (a6), Lilian WY Cheung (a7), Marion Nestle (a8) and Walter C Willett (a7) (a9)...
Abstract
Objective

To examine the opinions of stakeholders on strategies to improve dietary quality of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.

Design

Participants answered a thirty-eight-item web-based survey assessing opinions and perceptions of SNAP and programme policy changes.

Setting

USA.

Subjects

Survey of 522 individuals with stakeholder interest in SNAP, conducted in October through December 2011.

Results

The top three barriers to improving dietary quality identified were: (i) unhealthy foods marketed in low-income communities; (ii) the high cost of healthy foods; and (iii) lifestyle challenges faced by low-income individuals. Many respondents (70 %) also disagreed that current SNAP benefit levels were adequate to maintain a healthy diet. Stakeholders believed that vouchers, coupons or monetary incentives for purchasing healthful foods might have the greatest potential for improving the diets of SNAP participants. Many respondents (78 %) agreed that sodas should not be eligible for purchases with SNAP benefits. More than half (55 %) believed retailers could easily implement such restrictions. A majority of respondents (58 %) agreed that stores should stock a minimum quantity of healthful foods in order to be certified as a SNAP retailer, and most respondents (83 %) believed that the US Department of Agriculture should collect data on the foods purchased with SNAP benefits.

Conclusions

Results suggest that there is broad stakeholder support for policies that align SNAP purchase eligibility with national public health goals of reducing food insecurity, improving nutrition and preventing obesity.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding authors: Email healthcommission@gmail.com and cindyleung@post.harvard.edu
Footnotes
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These authors contributed equally to this work.

Footnotes
References
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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
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