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Stores Market Sugary Drinks to SNAP Recipients, Study Finds

Stores Market Sugary Drinks to SNAP Recipients, Study Finds
Stateline Feb28
A sign advertises a program that allows food stamp recipients to use their electronic benefit transfer cards to shop at a farmers market in Topsham, Maine. In recent years, cities and states have tried new ways to entice food stamp recipients to eat more healthfully.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Stores advertise high-calorie, sugary soft drinks more heavily during the time of the month when food stamp recipients get their benefits, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The report found that stores were nearly twice as likely to have displays of soft drinks and other sugary beverages at the beginning of the month, when Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are issued, compared with other times.

The report also found that stores in neighborhoods with large populations of SNAP recipients were more likely to step up marketing efforts during that time period, compared with stores in neighborhoods with fewer SNAP beneficiaries.

Such targeted marketing, the researchers found, likely contributes to increased purchase and consumption of sugary drinks and “may at least partially explain disparities in purchasing, consumption and health outcomes by SNAP participation.”

In recent years, cities and states have tried new ways to entice food stamp recipients to eat more healthfully. One approach that’s gaining popularity: offering rebates to low-income families when they buy fresh produce.

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