Relation between the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program cycle and dietary quality in low-income African Americans in Baltimore, Maryland

Anna Y. Kharmats, Jessica C. Jones-Smith, Yun Sang Cheah, Nadine Budd, Laura Flamm, Alison Cuccia, Yeeli Mui, Angela Trude, Joel Gittelsohn

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Background: There has been limited research regarding the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and recipients' dietary quality during the days and weeks after benefit disbursement. Objective: We examined the relation between participants' stages in the SNAP cycle and their macronutrient consumption, Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores, and fruit and vegetable intake. Design: In this cross-sectional study, we analyzed single 24-h dietary recalls collected from 244 African American SNAP participants recruited near 24 corner stores in Baltimore City. A multiple linear regression analysis and bootstrapping were used. Results: Among participants who received a SNAP benefit ≤15 d before being surveyed, energy intake adjusted for minimum energy requirements (-4.49%; 95% CI: -8.77%, -0.15%) and HEI dairy scores (-0.12; 95% CI: -0.22, -0.01) were lower for each 1-d increase in the time since SNAP distribution (TSSD). Among participants who received SNAP benefits >15 d before being surveyed, energy intake (1.35%; 95% CI: 0.01%, 2.73%), energy intake adjusted for minimum energy requirements (3.86%; 95% CI: 0.06%, 7.96%), total fat intake (1.96%; 95% CI: 0.29%, 3.8%), saturated fat intake (2.02%; 95% CI: 0.23%, 4.01%), and protein intake (2.09%; 95% CI: 0.70%, 3.62%) were higher per each 1-d increase in the TSSD. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the relation between the TSSD and macronutrient intake might be U-shaped, with higher intake of calories, fat, and protein in individuals in the very early and late stages of their SNAP cycles. Foods high in these nutrients might be cheaper, more accessible, and have a longer shelf-life than healthier options, such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, for SNAP participants when their benefits run out. Additional efforts are needed to investigate the effect of the TSSD on dietary intake by using a longitudinal design and to improve the quality of dietary intake in African American SNAP participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1014
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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