Americans in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have higher mortality

BOSTON (Jan. 19, 2017)—The U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income individuals and families purchase food, covered one in six Americans during 2015 and represented more than half of the entire U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual budget of $155 billion.

An analysis of health data from almost half-a-million U.S. adults over the span of a decade finds substantially higher death rates among individuals participating in SNAP. Adjusting for age and sex, participants in SNAP had around two-fold higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and three-fold higher diabetes mortality, compared to SNAP-ineligible individuals.

Individuals who were eligible for SNAP based on income levels but did not participate, had significantly less increased risk in comparison: around one-and-a-half times the risk for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and under twice the risk for diabetes-related mortality, compared to SNAP-ineligible individuals.

The study, led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, highlights the need for efforts to better understand and improve poor health outcomes among low-income Americans.

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