The Affordability of MyPlate: An Analysis of SNAP Benefits and the Actual Cost of Eating According to the Dietary Guidelines.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To estimate the funds required to support a MyPlate diet and to estimate the additional costs needed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to adhere to the MyPlate diet.

DESIGN

Using the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) MyPlate dietary guidelines that specify recommendations for individuals based on age and gender and retail price data from the USDA, the cost of following USDA's MyPlate guidelines for consuming 3 meals daily was estimated for the following individuals: children, adolescents, female adults, male adults, female seniors, male seniors, and a 4-person family.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Cost of consuming a MyPlate diet, including canned, frozen, and fresh produce as part of the diet.

ANALYSIS

Descriptive analysis of the cost of consuming a MyPlate diet.

RESULTS

Consuming a MyPlate diet consisting of only fresh fruits and vegetables is the most expensive diet. The monthly additional costs on an individual basis is the largest for boys aged 12-17 years ($75/mo) because they have the largest quantity of food consumed compared with all other gender and age groups. The monthly cost for a family of 4 ranged from $1,109 to $1,249/mo.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

The monetary amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits may be insufficient to support a healthy diet recommended by federal nutrition guidelines.

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