(NaturalNews) A study published by The American Journal of American Nutrition looked at the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamp Program. The SNAP program cost taxpayers over $75 billion dollars in 2011. It is estimated one out of every seven Americans are enrolled in the program. There is no benefit within the program for individuals to purchase healthy, nutritionally dense foods versus sugary, low quality foods. It has also been suggested those enrolled in the SNAP program are at a greater risk for developing complex health issues such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.
The study looked at about 3,800 low income, non-elderly adults and assessed the nutritional quality of those in SNAP versus those who were non-participants. Low income was defined as less than or equal to 130 percent of the poverty line per household. Each participant underwent a full physical prior to participation and a 24-hour dietary recall. The diets were examined to determine food type and nutrient density. This was compared to standardized national recommended guidelines for adults. When the results for SNAP participants and non-participants were compared to national dietary guidelines, few people reached the recommended levels. Most did not eat a sufficient amount of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, or legumes. Additionally, low income participants (regardless of SNAP participation) met or exceeded the recommended limits for processed meats, sweets, bakery desserts, and sugar sweetened beverages.
For sugar sweetened beverages, the recommended limit is four servings per week. The median intake for low income adults was 13-16 servings per week. 10 percent of low income individuals surveyed ingested about 40 servings per week. Total energy intake was the same between the SNAP and non-participants. SNAP participants consumed 39 percent fewer grains, 44 percent more fruit juice, 56 percent more potatoes, and 46 percent more red meat.
Overall, SNAP participants ingested more sugary, high starch foods that are commonly linked to diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Another study concluded that SNAP participants had greater body fat content, greater incidence of high triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome. One study has linked high consumption of red and processed meat to an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Whole fruit and green, leafy vegetable consumption is linked with decreased risk of Type II diabetes. Increased intake of sugar sweetened drinks is associated with metabolic syndrome and coronary artery disease.
The SNAP program aims to end hunger for low income individuals. Currently, by ending hunger, the program is increasing disease prevalence. The program is utilizing a significant amount of money to increase the prevalence of epidemic disease throughout the United States.
Sources for this article include:
Leung CW, Ding EL, Catalano PJ, et al. Dietary intake and dietary quality of low-income adults in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96: 977-988 Leung CW, Willett WC, Ding EL. Low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation is related to adiposity and metabolic risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:17-24.
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About the author: Sarah is a Doctor of Chiropractic working and residing in Charlotte, North Carolina.