Date of Award

12-16-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Second Advisor

Dr. Kim Ramsey-White

Abstract

Background: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the largest nutrition assistance program in the United States. Its objective is to alleviate food insecurity and hunger. Women represent 28% of participants. Low-income individuals and women have the highest rates of obesity.

Objective: Determine if there is an association between participation in SNAP and elevated body mass index (BMI) in low-income women.

Design: A cross-sectional analysis was performed with National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2009-2010 dataset. The study population comprised 788 women between the ages of 18 and 65, who were not pregnant, with household incomes ≤ 130% of the federal poverty level. More than half (57%) of the study population were SNAP participants. Univariate and Multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine the associations between SNAP participation and BMI, as well as selected sociodemographic variables; race, country of birth, education level, marital status, total number in household, insurance coverage, physical activity, and food security.

Results: SNAP participants were more likely to be overweight or obese than non-SNAP participants. There were no statistically significant associations found between SNAP participation and elevated BMI. Having health insurance was associated with elevated BMI in both univariate (OR: 1.339; 95% CI: 1.006, 1.781; P≤ 0.05) and multivariate analyses (OR: 1.479; 95% CI: 1.079, 2.2028; P≤ 0.05).

Conclusion: Though there was no statistically significant association between SNAP participation and elevated BMI due to limitations of the dataset, some relationship does seem to exist. Health insurance was the only variable positively associated with elevated BMI. Further investigation of obesity in low-income women and other populations is necessary to better align SNAP with dietary guidelines.

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