The Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a study on December 5, providing clear evidence that well-designed nutrition education programs can lead to healthier food choices by participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
"This study builds on a body of research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior showing the positive impact education has on healthy behaviors," says Joanne Ikeda, president of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB). "It's estimated that each SNEB member educates nearly 10,000 people through presentations, newsletters and social media. Their work helps at-risk families make better food choices and reduce the devastating impacts of conditions such as diabetes and obesity."
The study, SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II), evaluated the impact of several nutrition education programs on fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income elementary school children and seniors. The study found that children participating in certain nutrition education programs increased their daily fruit and vegetable consumption at home by a quarter- to a third-cup, and were more likely to choose low-fat or fat-free milk. Participating seniors also consumed more fruits and vegetables daily.
"The results of this study reiterate the critical role of nutrition education and promotion in improving the healthfulness of SNAP purchases," said Under Secretary Kevin Concannon in the USDA press release. "USDA and our partners continue to explore a wide-ranging set of strategies that support families as they purchase, prepare and eat more healthy foods." But Ikeda cautions, "Recent cuts to SNAP and SNAP-Ed have not only reduced money available for food for at-risk families, but have also impacted the funding for vital education programs. SNEB has joined other organizations in calling for Congress to protect SNAP and SNAP-Ed."
Further information on the study can be found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-education-and-evaluation-study-wave-ii
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