Monthly Beverage Purchasing Behaviors in SNAP-Participating Households with Children
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Theses; 2011
(Background) Rates of childhood obesity have been rising for decades in the United States. In industrialized countries like the US, food insecurity is linked to obesity rather than underweight. In 2009, 14.7% of US households experienced food insecurity. With many food insecure households participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), analyzing the purchasing behaviors of people using SNAP gives insight to possible causes of the link between food insecurity and obesity. (Purpose) The purpose of this study was to examine the monthly fluctuations in SNAP-participating households’ supplies of beverages to determine which drinks are purchased when food stamps are allocated at the beginning of the month and what drinks are purchased when finances are tighter at the end of the month. (Methods) The sample was drawn from three Ohio counties and includes only households with children. A shelf inventory questionnaire was administered at the beginning and end of the month for three months to record the kinds of foods and beverages present. (Results) No significant differences were found in lower energy drinks (i.e. lower fat milks), but there was a significant decrease in higher energy drinks (i.e. regular soda pop and fruit juices [p<0.0001]). (Discussion) The results suggest that relative financial security at the beginning of the month leads to increased purchasing of higher energy drinks, and that lower energy drinks are purchased more steadily throughout the month. This supports the hypothesis that a binging behavior occurs at the beginning of the month in food insecure households due to the acquirement of food stamps and that this repeats monthly to contribute to obesity. (Conclusion) This study has found that households that use food stamps and have children tend to splurge on higher energy drinks. More research should be conducted to determine whether it is children or adults who largely consume these high calorie beverages. Nutrition education is needed to inform SNAP participants about high-energy drinks consumption.
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