Supplemental nutrition assistance program 2009 expansion and cardiometabolic markers among low-income adults

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A 2009 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy change that expanded eligibility and increased benefit amounts has been associated with reduced food insecurity. This study tests the hypothesis that the SNAP policy change corresponds with improved stress- and nutrition-sensitive cardiometabolic markers. This study included non-pregnant participants aged 18–59 with annual family incomes ≤185% of the federal poverty guideline from the repeated cross-sectional NHANES study. Those living in SNAP eligible households (income ≤130% of the poverty guideline) were compared to those who were likely non-eligible (income 131%–≤185%). Difference-in-differences analyses compared hemoglobin A1c (%), CRP (mg/dL), total cholesterol (mg/dL), LDL (mg/dL) and waist circumference (cm) across groups before (2007–2008) and after (2009–2010) the SNAP policy change. Sampling weights were applied. Adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, household and health factors, there were statistically significant difference-in-differences estimates for hemoglobin A1c (p = 0.003, n = 3723) and total cholesterol (p = 0.028, n = 3710). SNAP eligible adults had no difference in hemoglobin A1c after the policy change and, among those less than 40 years of age, 5 mg/dL lower total cholesterol levels whereas likely non-SNAP eligible adults had 0.14% higher hemoglobin A1c and no difference in total cholesterol after the policy change. The 2009 SNAP expansion was associated with improved nutrition-sensitive cardiometabolic markers in SNAP-eligible adults. This study found less of an upward trend in hemoglobin A1c levels for young and middle aged adults and decreased total cholesterol for young adults. These results highlight the potential role of SNAP to prevent costly chronic conditions among low-income U.S. adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106678
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • C-reactive protein
  • Cholesterol
  • Food assistance
  • Glycated hemoglobin A
  • Socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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