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Among other programs President Trump proposed slashing in his budget blueprint Tuesday, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as the food stamps program, would lose 29 percent of its funding over 10 years.
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The debate about food stamps largely centers on whether the program promotes dependency...But there’s one thing about SNAP that even its liberal supporters would acknowledge is a weakness: There’s a lot of evidence that the program doesn’t help its recipients achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
To name just one researcher who has uncovered this trend, Cindy Leung, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, found teen and adult food-stamp recipients had larger waists and higher levels of obesity than people who aren’t in the program, even when controlling for income. More than a quarter of children live in households that currently receive SNAP benefits, according to Leung’s work, and while she found that kids in the program are not more likely to be obese, she did find that children in the program consumed more sugar-sweetened drinks, processed meat, and high-fat dairy than kids who didn’t live in SNAP households.
Even though the program is imperfect, “SNAP is our first line of defense against hunger,” Leung said. Cuts to the program, she says, “would hurt a lot of families.” In 2016, SNAP helped 44 million Americans.
Instead, if policy makers are concerned about the health of beneficiaries, she thinks it could be tweaked in various ways....And given that stress itself can lead to obesity, that’s a health benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked.
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