IMPROVING NUTRITION: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE EFFECTS OF SNAP PARTICIPATION AND IMMIGRANT STATUS ON NUTRITION BEHAVIORS?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families across the United States. Since 2002, legal noncitizens have also been fully eligible for benefits. Dietary studies suggest that SNAP participants consume less nutritious diets than non-participants, and that native-born individuals and immigrants who have been in the U.S. for many years consume less healthy diets than more recent immigrants. Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007-2008 and 2009-2010, my research helps to identify how SNAP participation and immigrant status are associated with the nutritional attitudes and behaviors that determine diet quality. The results of multiple ordered probit regression models suggest that SNAP participation has little effect on these behaviors, but that immigrant status is significantly associated with positive nutrition behaviors. Though not conclusive, the results also suggest that the magnitude of this positive association decreases as immigrants remain in the U.S. for longer periods. Policymakers may need to consider increasing nutrition-related educational messaging, or perhaps more direct interventions, such as limiting the foods individuals can purchase with their SNAP benefits. Similarly, identifying discrete factors that account for the difference in nutrition attitudes and behaviors between immigrants and nonimmigrants could be used to inform programs or educational campaigns that are aimed at changing the U.S. culture as it relates to nutrition. Combining these two key independent variables suggests a dual role for the SNAP program – it should be leveraged as a pre-established mechanism for implementing policies that encourage low-income immigrants to maintain their traditional nutrition behaviors, while at the same time encouraging behavioral changes among the nonimmigrant population.
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Effects of the Recovery Act SNAP Benefit Increase on Participation Among Upper Income Households With Earnings Vijaykumar, Srinidhi (Georgetown University, 2011)There are a variety of factors that may explain the low participation of working families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Explanations include the temporary nature of those families' poverty status; ...