BMC pediatricians find increase in SNAP benefits associated with healthier children

October 12, 2011, Boston University Medical Center

Pediatric researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC), in partnership with Children's HealthWatch investigators in Boston, Minneapolis, Little Rock, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, have found that higher benefit amounts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) protected the health and well-being of very young, low-income children during a period of great financial hardship for many families in America. These findings were released as a policy brief on Oct. 12.

In April 2009, the American Recovery and (ARRA) raised SNAP benefits across the board by a minimum of 13.6 percent.

According to the researchers, in the two years after the benefit increase children in families receiving SNAP were 15 percent more likely to be classified as "well children" than young children whose families were eligible for but did not receive SNAP. A "well child" is defined as neither overweight nor and whose parents report that s/he is in good , has never been hospitalized and is developing normally for his/her age.

"These results demonstrate that the improved SNAP benefit levels were a more effective "dosage" for sustaining children's health compared to pre-increase benefit levels, which were too low to protect against major health impacts in our population of young, low-income children," explained Deborah Frank, MD, director of BMC's Grow Clinic for Children and Founder and Principal Investigator of Children's HealthWatch.

According to the researchers, the latest scientific evidence shows that the basic foundation for children's health and is established in their first three years of life. "As we seek to ensure that all children arrive at school healthy and ready to learn, we must make sure that families have the resources to nourish their children and keep them well in their early years," added Frank, who is also an endowed professor in and Well-Being in the department of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine.

SNAP is an effective public health intervention designed to help meet the nutritional needs of American families in difficult times. The improved benefits are set to end in 2014 and may be considered for cuts in current deficit discussions, yet previous research showed that benefit levels before the ARRA increase were too low to afford a healthy diet. The ARRA legislation raised benefits closer to the actual cost of healthy food. "Health care strives to be evidence based – social policy should too. These results are evidence that higher SNAP benefits protect young children's health and should be sustained," she added.

Explore further: Stronger social safety net leads to decrease in stress, childhood obesity

Related Stories

Stronger social safety net leads to decrease in stress, childhood obesity

July 21, 2011
Social safety net programs that reduce psychosocial stressors for low-income families also ultimately lead to a reduction in childhood obesity, according to research by a University of Illinois economist who studies the efficacy ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.