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SNAP to it, Congress — we need to address the obesity crisis now

The Hill

January 22, 2024

The United States has witnessed historic and escalating rates of obesity among adults in recent decades. As of 2020, official government statistics indicate that obesity inflicts 42 percent of Americans, including one in five children.  

Obesity disproportionately affects low-income populations, who often rely on federal programs for assistance. Congress can combat the obesity epidemic by reforming federal programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This involves restricting the purchase of unhealthy foods through SNAP and creating incentives to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

SNAP provides monthly food benefits to low-income households, making it a well-positioned tool to address the obesity epidemic. Approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population receives SNAP in a given month, making it one of the federal government’s largest safety net programs. The program’s stated goal is to “raise the nutrition levels of low-income households,” yet 40 percent of adult SNAP recipients suffer from obesity and almost 45 percent have received a diagnosis of diet-related disease — far higher rates than the general population.  

Read the full op-ed here.