A study shows that people normally improve their food and diet choices in the presence of informative nutrition interventions, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supported by the USDA.

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Who doesn’t want to be healthier? Everyone does, even those people coming from the low-income group. This was the findings derived from a study to evaluate a program called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The SNAP is an educational intervention being implemented in various states to encourage people, especially the children and the elderly, to increase their intake of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

The study was funded by the US Department of Agriculture and conducted by the Altarum Institute and RTI International. According to Loren Bell, the project director of Altarum Institute, the participants showed significant improvement in their consumption of healthier diets. Findings show that consumption of fruits and vegetables by children who participated in SNAP increased by ¼ to 1/3 cup daily. They also showed preference for low-fat or fat-free dairy over the regular milk. Elderly participants showed the biggest improvement, consuming about ½-cup more fruits and vegetable.

According to the program director, Loren Bell of Altarum Institute, the findings indicated that if people were properly informed and guided, they would choose healthy foods over less healthy ones even if they had a tight budget. The study was carried out for 3 SNAP programs. Sheryl Cates, RTI program director, said that the findings emphasized that people would change food habits and choices when shown evidence-based and informative nutrition materials.

One of the SNAP programs included in the study involved low-income adults from ages 60 to 80. They were given informative materials and resources that they could take home. The two other SNAP programs evaluated by the study involved low-income children. Materials were handed out along with take-home activities. The take-home interventions were designed to help participants address the issue on how to prepare healthy foods with their limited income.

The study showed that participants who actively completed their take-home activities improved their eating habits and demonstrated healthier food choices. They have also taken more proactive attitude and ways of prevailing over the aspect of cost that is attached to healthier foods. USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon said that the study shows the importance of education and informative interventions to the country’s physical health. He also gave an assurance that the government, through the USDA and its partner organizations, will continue to promote strategies that encourage families to adopt healthier diets.



RTI International. “Strong nutrition education can lead to healthier food choices among low-income families.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209104918.htm>.