Web site to promote food stamp reform

Dec. 13, 2011 at 11:03 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Health officials Tuesday unveiled an interactive Web site for public discourse on ways to promote health and prevent obesity in the U.S. food stamp program.

The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, announced www.SNAPtoHealth.org to help develop strategies to promote health and prevent obesity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamps Program.

SNAP provides food assistance to more than 45 million Americans -- a 38 percent increase since the recession began in 2008. The site also serves as an online hub for health and nutrition information.

"With millions of people experiencing both food insecurity and obesity in America, innovative strategies are needed to promote healthy nutrition for its beneficiaries and reduce overweight in the years ahead," Dr. Susan Blumenthal, project director of Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress's Health and Medicine Program, said in a statement. "Strengthening SNAP is a critical ingredient in meeting 21st-century public health challenges and nutrition needs."

With one-out-of-seven Americans enrolled in SNAP -- children are 50 percent of SNAP participants -- it is critical that SNAP benefits be used to purchase healthy foods, rather than products that may contribute to the obesity epidemic in the United States, Blumenthal said.

"SNAP is a vital safety net for millions of families on the edge of hunger, but in its current form fuels the epidemics of obesity and diabetes that are overwhelming America," said Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard.

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