Objective: National concerns over food insecurity and obesity have prompted legislation seeking to further restrict Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchases. The objective of this study is to provide insight on the potential impact of proposed purchase restrictions by comparing SNAP participant and income-eligible non-participants' expenditures on current SNAP-restricted foods, that is, hot foods, prepared foods, alcohol, vitamins and meal supplements.
Design: Cross-sectional study. Bivariate analysis and multivariable regression analysis with an instrumental variables approach were employed to compare the probability of purchasing and expenditures on current SNAP-restricted foods among SNAP participants and income-eligible non-participants.
Setting: National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey, 2012-2013.
Participants: 2513 households, of which 1316 were SNAP participants and 1197 were income-eligible non-participants.
Results: Both the share of households purchasing and household expenditures on current SNAP-restricted foods were similar among SNAP participants and income-eligible non-participants.
Conclusions: Results provide further empirical evidence that proposed SNAP purchase restrictions on sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods and luxury foods are unlikely to have a meaningful effect on SNAP household food purchases.
Keywords: Expenditures; Instrumental variables; National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey; Purchase restriction; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.