Health Impact Assessment of Proposed Changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Health Impact Project recently released a white paper that examines the potential health impacts and health-related costs of proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now under consideration by Congress.

Recent House and Senate bills have proposed several changes to how the SNAP eligibility and benefit levels are determined. The Health Impact Project conducted a comprehensive, non-partisan, scientific analysis to introduce a rigorous assessment of the potential health effects of those proposed changes.

Under the proposed changes to SNAP currently under consideration:

Key Findings

  • As many as 5.1 million people could lose SNAP eligibility; among these are 1.4 million children and nearly 900,000 older adults.

  • The U.S. poverty rate would increase by just over half a percent.  Based on current rates of diabetes in relation to poverty in U.S. communities, this increase in poverty could translate to a growth in government and private-sector medical costs of nearly $15 billion over ten years for diabetes alone.

  • As many as 1.2 million school-age children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals would lose SNAP eligibility. In addition, an estimated 156,000 to approximately 210,000 school-age children would not receive free school meals despite being eligible.

  • As many as 160,000 to 305,000 more people could become food insecure (i.e. have difficulty getting enough to eat).

Food insecurity can have a widespread impact:

  • Children who do not have enough to eat are more likely to be hospitalized and have a greater risk for a range of health problems, including asthma and depression.
  • Research shows that low-income children with access to SNAP are less likely to have problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes as adults.
  • Adults who do not have enough to eat are more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.