Document Detail

Rewarding healthy food choices in SNAP: behavioral economic applications.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23758515     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
CONTEXT: American obesity rates continue to escalate, but an effective policy response remains elusive. Specific changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been proposed as one way to improve nutrition and combat obesity among lower-income populations. While current SNAP proposals hold promise, some important challenges still remain.
METHODS: We discuss the four most common recommendations for changes to SNAP and their benefits and limitations. We then propose three new delivery options for SNAP that take advantage of behavioral economic insights and encourage the selection of healthy foods.
FINDINGS: Although the existing proposals could help SNAP recipients, they often do not address some important behavioral impediments to buying healthy foods. We believe that behavioral economics can be used to design alternative policies with several advantages, although we recognize and discuss some of their limitations. The first proposal rewards healthy purchases with more SNAP funds and provides an additional incentive to maintain healthier shopping patterns. The second proposal uses the opportunity to win prizes to reward healthy food choices, and the prizes further support healthier habits. The final proposal simplifies healthy food purchases by allowing individuals to commit their SNAP benefits to more nutritious selections in advance.
CONCLUSIONS: Reforming the delivery structure of SNAP's benefits could help improve nutrition, weight, and overall health of lower-income individuals. We advocate for more and diverse SNAP proposals, which should be tested and, possibly, combined. Their implementation, however, would require political will, administrative capacity, and funding.
Michael R Richards; Jody L Sindelar
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Milbank quarterly     Volume:  91     ISSN:  1468-0009     ISO Abbreviation:  Milbank Q     Publication Date:  2013 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-06-13     Completed Date:  2013-08-20     Revised Date:  2014-06-03    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8607003     Medline TA:  Milbank Q     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  395-412     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
© 2013 Milbank Memorial Fund.
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MeSH Terms
Choice Behavior*
Economics, Behavioral*
Food Assistance / economics,  standards*
Food Quality*
Health Promotion*
Nutrition Policy*
Obesity / prevention & control
Grant Support
5T32DA031104/DA/NIDA NIH HHS; T32 HS017589/HS/AHRQ HHS

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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