Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously referred to as “Food Stamps”, has been shown through a variety of studies to be associated with lower healthcare costs and better overall health in its recipients. A new study states that SNAP recipients are 23% more likely to consume whole fruits and vegetables than non-participants. The study also suggested that the decline in consumption of healthy foods may be connected with the budgeting constraints and lack of preparation times to cook meals and that SNAP recipients have been shown to consume less sodium and saturated fats than non-recipients.

Food-secure households spend half the amount food-insecure households spend on healthcare, and according to an article written for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there is a strong connection between food insecurity and chronic health problems among children and seniors.

While SNAP relieves only a small monetary burden off its recipients, it is the country’s primary anti-hunger program, having assisted over 42 million Americans in 2017, and is a vital source of nutrition assistance for many families.

“All Americans, SNAP participants, and non-participants alike have work to do when it comes to eating a healthy diet,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon in an article. “The results of this study reinforce the critical role of USDA programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education among low-income children and families to help make the healthy choice, an easy choice.”

SNAP improves food security which gives families the opportunity to buy more nutritious meals and allows recipients to participate in more health-promoting activities. SNAP can reduce food insecurity by 30% and is shown to be most effective in children whose households have “very low food security”.

Aside from nutrition, SNAP recipients have shown to have better health in other aspects.

According to another article by CBPP, children who’ve had early access to SNAP are less likely to become obese or have heart conditions, pregnant mothers on SNAP are more likely to have improved birth outcomes, and elderly SNAP recipients have a higher medical adherence than non-recipients.

By making nutrition assistance more available to low-income communities, researchers predict, SNAP can continue to improve the health conditions of those who need it.