3 years ago

Re-evaluating associations between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation and body mass index in the context of unmeasured confounders

To evaluate the association between participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and body mass index (BMI) in the presence of unmeasured confounding. Methods We applied new matching methods to determine whether previous reports of associations between SNAP participation and BMI were robust to unmeasured confounders. We applied near-far matching, which strengthens standard matching by combining it with instrumental variables analysis, to the nationally-representative National Household Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey (FoodAPS, N = 10,360, years 2012–13). Results In ordinary least squares regressions controlling for individual demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, SNAP was associated with increased BMI (+1.23 kg/m2, 95% CI: 0.84, 1.63). While propensity-score-based analysis replicated this finding, using instrumental variables analysis and particularly near-far matching to strengthen the instruments’ discriminatory power revealed the association between SNAP and BMI was likely confounded by unmeasured covariates (+0.21 kg/m2, 95% CI: −3.88, 4.29). Conclusions Previous reports of an association between SNAP and obesity should be viewed with caution, and use of near-far matching may assist similar assessments of health effects of social programs.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0277953617305543

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