SNAP participants' sodium intake lower than non-participants, though still higher than recommended

A chart showing the predicted daily sodium intake in a 2,000 calorie diet, milligrams.

ERS researchers recently examined the quality of Americans’ diets, focusing on the effects of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the food choices of low-income American adults. Researchers found SNAP participants’ diets were comparable in most ways to those of non-participants. One area in which SNAP participants did slightly better was sodium consumption: on average, SNAP participants had a lower sodium intake than either low-income non-participants or higher-income individuals. Current Federal nutritional recommendations advise keeping daily sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams, or below 1,500 milligrams for African Americans, people over age 50, and those who have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The predicted difference in daily sodium consumption between SNAP participants and low-income non-participants is 73 milligrams in a 2,000 calorie diet—a little less than the amount found in half of a one-ounce bag of potato chips. Adults with higher incomes were predicted to consume 158 milligrams more of sodium per day than SNAP participants. This chart is from “SNAP Participation and Diet Outcomes” in ERS’s Amber Waves magazine, November 2013.

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