Introduction: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal food assistance program, providing $67 billion in benefits to 44 million Americans. Some states distribute SNAP benefits over one or a few days each month, which may create an incentive for retailers to heavily promote top-selling products, like sugar-sweetened beverages, when benefits are disbursed. Methods: A beverage environment scan assessing presence of displays, advertisements, and price promotions for sugar-sweetened, low-calorie, and unsweetened beverages was administered in a census of SNAP-authorized beverage retailers (n=630) in three cities in New York from September to November 2011. Multilevel regression models controlling for store type; county; and percentage SNAP enrollment, poverty, and non-Hispanic white population in the store's census tract were used to estimate the odds of in-store beverage marketing during the SNAP benefit issuance period compared to other days of the month. Data were analyzed in 2016. Results: There were higher odds of in-store sugar-sweetened beverage marketing during SNAP benefit issuance days (first to ninth days of the month) compared with other days of the month, particularly for sugar-sweetened beverage advertisements (OR=1.66, 95% CI=1.01, 2.72) and displays (OR=1.88, 95% CI=1.16, 3.03). In census tracts with high SNAP enrollment (>28%), the odds of a retailer having sugar-sweetened beverage displays were 4.35 times higher (95% CI=1.93, 9.98) during issuance compared with non-issuance days. There were no differences in marketing for low-calorie or unsweetened beverages. Conclusions: Increases in sugar-sweetened beverage marketing during issuance may exacerbate disparities in diet quality of households participating in SNAP. Policy changes, like extending SNAP benefit issuance, may mitigate these effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health