Studies show that despite the increase in awareness groups for more restrictions on what you can buy with food stamps—the program doesn’t actually influence kids into eating or drinking sugary treats. Many legislators have been focused on finding ways to make healthier eating choices a priority for food stamp users, but advocates against this policy have shown that food prices are really to blame for what can be bought with the meager budget that food stamps provides. The fact is, processed snacks and sugary treats are less expensive than fresh organic vegetables. New findings are also showing that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) doesn’t influence what kids consume.
The new study compared children from families that participated in SNAP to kids who were not in SNAP, and there wasn’t any significant changes to how much milk, soda or fruit juice that kids drank. The findings certainly don’t mean that legislators can ban sweetened beverages from the allowances list any time soon, as the study shows it wouldn’t necessarily cut down on the consumption.
The study’s results do suggest that food stamps doesn’t encourage families to eat unhealthy, according to another report in the August issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Meenakshi Fernandes, the study’s author and senior analyst at the health and policy research organization Abt Associates, stated that “SNAP does not affect beverage consumption among low-income children.”
On average,SNAP deposits $248 per month for people with low incomes to use at grocery stores to buy allowed food. The food list mainly bans items like protein shakes, tobacco, alcohol, vitamins and pet food.
There have been attempts in recent years from decent state legislators to ban sugary foods and drinks from the food stamp list. In 2010, New York City attempted to add sugary drinks to the banned items list with the argument that sugary drinks were spurring on child obesity. However, USDA which runs SNAP denied the permission to implement the new legislation in 2011.
Overall, Fernandes actually found that kids who were participating in SNAP actually drank slightly less sugar drinks than those who were not in the program. Although the findings have proven that food stamps doesn’t affect kids’ decisions on what to eat, it’s still a major debate and more research is necessary, according to Anne Barnhill, a lecturer in the Department of Medical Ethics and Healthy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
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