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The Relationship Between Obesity and Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Is Mental Health a Mediator?

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Focusing on adults from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, we investigated whether mental health was a mediator in the association between obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The analyses included 1776 SNAP participants and eligible nonparticipants. SNAP participants had higher odds of obesity (odds ratio [OR] =2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.52-4.36) and of reporting a mental health problem (OR = 3.8; 95% CI, 1.68-8.44) than eligible nonparticipants; however, mental health was not a mediator in the association between SNAP participation and obesity. We recommend changes in SNAP to promote healthier food habits among participants and reduce the stress associated with participation.

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