Food stamps and sugary drinks

Children in families that receive food stamps drink just as much milk, soda and fruit juice as kids who don’t receive federal assistance, according to a recent study.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found no evidence that the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the food stamp program) influences how many sugary drinks kids consume.

The findings, according to a Reuters Health article, don’t mean banning the use of food stamps to buy sugary drinks wouldn’t cut down on consumption. But they do suggest that simply having food stamps doesn’t encourage people to buy more unhealthy drinks.

Researchers used information from a national survey asking fifth- and eighth-graders how often they drank certain beverages.

According to the article, a sample group of 3,126 kids, all of whom lived in homes with incomes less than $75,000, were surveyed in 2004 and 2007. About one in five of those children were SNAP participants.

The research showed that kids from SNAP households drank sugary drinks slightly less than those who were not in the program, and drank fruit juice and milk slightly more. The differences were so small, though, they could have been due to chance, according to the article.

Purchases of alcohol, tobacco and other non-food items are not permitted. The program does not restrict purchases based on the healthfulness of foods.

Are you surprised by the findings?

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