Are children who receive help through the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more likely to be overweight than those who don’t?
A study by Corban University professor Shannon Simmons, Ph.D., made some surprising discoveries as she sought the answer as part of her doctoral dissertation. Her findings were published in the December 2012 issue of “The Journal of School Health.”
“I am passionate about childhood obesity and the possible public health determinants that play into this epidemic,” Simmons said. “I think that there could be a role that government assistance programs have on issues such as these.”
What she learned is that children who participate in SNAP were not at a higher risk for becoming overweight and obese. However, one factor did stand out as a possible precursor for the epidemic in the primarily low-income group she studied.
“Those children who participated in Head Start two consecutive years had a statistically significant increase in body mass index (BMI) regardless of SNAP participation,” Simmons said.
Simmons has already started collecting data to build on her research. This includes studying ethnicity and education levels in participants and their parents. The goal is to discover if there is a direct association between parental and childhood obesity in recipients of Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and SNAP assistance.