Grocery Stores Are Not Associated with More Healthful Food for Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019 03; 119(3):400-415.JA
Despite interventions to improve the nutrition of grocery store purchases, also referred to as at-home (AH) foods, by participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), little is known about what proportion of participants' intake is from AH foods and how the dietary quality of AH food compares with participants' away-from-home (AFH) food. Although recent research indicates SNAP participants have dietary quality that is slightly worse than that of income-eligible nonparticipants, it is unknown whether this is attributable to AH or AFH consumption.
The objective of this study is to examine differences in self-reported dietary intake by food source for SNAP participants compared with income-eligible nonparticipants using 2011-2014 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
This study included data from the NHANES, a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of the United States population.
This study included 2,523 adults with low incomes (≤130% of the federal poverty level) in NHANES (2011-2014).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Self-reported intake of calories, solid fats, added sugars, and servings of nonstarchy vegetables, whole fruits, and whole grains was assessed by food source in SNAP participants and income-eligible nonparticipants.
Multivariate linear regression was used for each outcome, controlling for relevant sociodemographic characteristics. Data were stratified by food source, including grocery stores, sit-down restaurants, and fast food.
SNAP participants had a higher intake of solid fats and added sugar from AH foods than nonparticipants. Added sugar from AH food accounted for 15.3% of total calories consumed by SNAP participants, compared with 11.8% for nonparticipants (P<0.001). SNAP participants consumed fewer calories from sit-down restaurants, but both groups consumed similar amounts of calories from fast food. Consumption of nonstarchy vegetables, whole fruits, and whole grains was low for both groups.
SNAP participants had poorer diet quality from consumption of AH food than did nonparticipants. Future research should focus on interventions to improve the healthfulness of grocery store purchases as a mechanism to improve dietary quality of SNAP participants.