The study was based on two proposed changes to the SNAP program. Researchers considered how two different measures would impact the buying habits of food stamp participants. One proposed change in policy was a complete ban of sugar-sweetened beverages. The other was a discount on the purchase of fruits and vegetables.
The study is based on the theory that the over-consumption of sugar is a main cause of obesity. They hoped to prove that policies restricting sugar consumption would directly impact obesity and obesity related diseases.
One doctor has made statements supporting this theory. Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric neuroendocrinologist, calls sugar a poison that causes harmful effects on our bodies. He explains:
“… when it comes to harmful health effects, sugar is worse than fat. Consumption of either results in elevated levels of artery-clogging fats being made by the liver and deposited in the bloodstream. But fructose causes even further damage to the liver and to structural proteins of the body while fomenting excessive caloric consumption.”
While critics question whether common foods such as soda should be blamed for obesity, researchers were able to determine a connection.
Their results revealed that if food stamp policy changes were made to ban sugar, participants would experience weight loss.
While many buyers would likely switch to the purchase of fruit juice rather than soda, there would still be some reduction in calories and a noticeable reduction in sugar. Researchers estimate an average loss of 1.5 pounds and a 1.7% reduction in Type 2 diabetes.
This is compared to the result achieved if policies were put into effect to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables. While that policy would likely increase the amount of people who ate the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables, it did not have any effect on obesity or diabetes.
The Center for Disease Control reports that more than one-third of Americans are obese and are at risk for obesity related conditions. They also report that obesity is more common among low-income women.