OBJECTIVE

Food insecurity is associated with diabetes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest U.S. government food assistance program. Whether such programs impact diabetes trends is unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between changes in state-level policies affecting SNAP participation and county-level diabetes prevalence.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

We evaluated the association between change in county-level diabetes prevalence and changes in the U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP policy index—a measure of adoption of state-level policies associated with increased SNAP participation (higher value indicating adoption of more policies associated with increased SNAP participation; range 1–10)—from 2004 to 2014 using g-computation, a robust causal inference methodology. The study included all U.S. counties with diabetes prevalence data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System.

RESULTS

The study included 3,135 of 3,143 U.S. counties. Mean diabetes prevalence increased from 7.3% (SD 1.3) in 2004 to 9.1% (SD 1.8) in 2014. The mean SNAP policy index increased from 6.4 (SD 0.9) to 8.2 (SD 0.6) in 2014. After accounting for changes in demographic-, economic-, and health care-related variables and the baseline SNAP policy index, a 1-point absolute increase in the SNAP policy index between 2004 and 2014 was associated with a 0.050 (95% CI 0.042–0.057) percentage point lower diabetes prevalence per year.

CONCLUSIONS

State policies aimed at increasing SNAP participation were independently associated with a lower rise in diabetes prevalence between 2004 and 2014.

S.A.M.K. and N.I. contributed equally to this manuscript.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.16606364

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