SNAP And Congress To Address Obesity Crisis Now
Buying sweetened beverages like soft drinks from SNAP benefits has led to an obesity crisis in Americans that needs to be addressed.
In recent decades, the United States has witnessed historic and escalating rates of obesity among adults. The government statistics reveal that obesity is affecting 42% of Americans including one in five children.
Obesity usually affects low-income populations who rely on federal programs for assistance. The key is to reform federal programs, especially the SNAP to combat the obesity epidemic. This includes restricting the purchase of unhealthy foods via SNAP and creating incentives to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
SNAP, which offers monthly food benefits to low-income households, serves as a key resource in tackling the obesity epidemic. Around 13 percent of the U.S. population benefits from SNAP each month, making it one of the largest federal safety net programs. Despite its aim to improve the nutrition levels of low-income households, obesity is prevalent among 40 percent of adult SNAP recipients, and nearly 45 percent have been diagnosed with diet-related diseases. These rates are significantly higher than those in the general population.
Soft drinks are among the top purchases of SNAP recipients as reported by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. Obesity rates continued to climb at the time Congress made investments in SNAP which in turn proved SNAP ineffective in enhancing nutrition among participants.
Obesity causes several health problems affecting the daily lives of Americans such as reducing their mobility, creating stress, and leading to mental health challenges.
Overall medical costs associated with obesity are also increasing. For instance, medical costs associated with cancer in the U.S. are around $200 Billion in a year.
If SNAP catered to nutrition more effectively, it can reduce the prevalence of obesity which will further lower healthcare costs in the U.S.
Public policies prioritizing nutrition and healthy behaviors should prevent obesity from the start. SNAP can meet this challenge. One crucial step is to restrict sweetened beverages from SNAP.
SNAP, as a vital safety net program, offers nutritional support to low-income households.
However, there’s a consensus between a member of Congress and a researcher that SNAP should not only provide food assistance but also prioritize nutritional quality to address the obesity crisis more effectively. Implementing nutrition reforms in SNAP is essential not only for improving the health of low-income Americans but also for contributing to solving the country’s looming fiscal crisis.
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Rachidi Angela. “SNAP to it, Congress — we need to address the obesity crisis now”. The Hill, January 20, 2024,
SNAP to it, Congress — we need to address the obesity crisis now | The Hill
Last Updated: September 20, 2021