The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the largest U.S. federally funded nutrition assistance program, providing food assistance to more than 40 million low-income Americans, half of whom are children. This paper examines trends in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among U.S. children and adolescents by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation status.
Dietary data from 15,645 participants (aged 2-19 years) were obtained from the 2003-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation was categorized as: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participant, income-eligible nonparticipant, lower income-ineligible nonparticipant, and higher income-ineligible nonparticipant. Survey-weighted logistic regressions estimated predicted probabilities of daily sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, and negative binomial regressions estimated predicted per capita daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverage calories. Data were analyzed in 2019.
From 2003 to 2014, there were significant declines across all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation categories for sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (participants: 84.2% to 75.6%, p=0.009; income-eligible nonparticipants: 85.8% to 67.5%, p=0.004; lower income-ineligible nonparticipants: 84.3% to 70.6%, p=0.026; higher income-ineligible nonparticipants: 82.2% to 67.7%, p=0.001) and per capita daily sugar-sweetened beverage calories (participants: 267 to 182 kilocalories, p<0.001; income-eligible nonparticipants: 269 to 168 kilocalories, p<0.001; lower income-ineligible nonparticipants: 249 to 178 kilocalories, p=0.008; higher income-ineligible nonparticipants: 244 to 161 kilocalories, p<0.001). Per capita sports/energy drink consumption increased among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants (2 to 15 kilocalories, p=0.007).
Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has declined for children and adolescents in all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation categories, but current levels remain high. There were fewer favorable trends over time for consumption of sugar-sweetened beverage subtypes among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants relative to other participant categories.