Did the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act affect dietary intake of low-income individuals?

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between increased Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits following the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the diet quality of individuals from SNAP-eligible compared to ineligible (those with somewhat higher income) households using data from the 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The ARRA increased SNAP monthly benefits by 13.6% of the maximum allotment for a given household size, equivalent to an increase of $24 to $144 for one-to-eight person households respectively. In the full sample, we find that these increases in SNAP benefits are not associated with changes in nutrient intake and diet quality. However, among those with no more than a high school education, higher SNAP benefits are associated with a 46% increase in the mean caloric share from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and a decrease in overall diet quality especially for those at the lower end of the diet quality distribution, amounting to a 9% decline at the 25th percentile.

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