Health Impact Assessment of Sugar Sweetened Beverages

IPHI is currently working on a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) exploring the potential  positive and negative health impacts of a proposed policy to make sugar sweetened beveragesineligible for purchase under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). This assessment is being funded by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts. IPHI’s HIA Advisory Committee includes nutritionists, food security experts, health and hunger advocates, and food retailers.  Click here[JL1]  for more information on our assessment framework.

On October 17, The Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law organized a panel discussion with members of the project’s advisory committee to discuss the complex health and social justice aspects of this proposed policy and to further explore the potential impact of the proposed policy and other policy alternatives such as incentives or a tax.  The panel included Elissa Bassler, CEO of IPHI; Dr. Tania Kelly, Director of Pediatric Community and Advocacy at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital; Dan Lesser, Director of Economic Security at the Shriver Center; and Janine Lewis, Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.

                The panel generated a fruitful dialogue about the potential positive and negative health impacts, potential barriers to effective implementation, and the equity and fairness implications of this policy.  Panelists also discussed the potential effect the sugar sweetened beverage ineligibility might have on reducing  consumption of these drinks, the impact of sugar sweetened beverages on obesity, chronic disease, and oral health, and the policy’s potential to further stigmatize SNAP users.  The discussion underscored the importance of conducting a health impact assessment on this topic by highlighting both the complexities of these issues and the need for careful analysis of this policy proposal.

                For more information on IPHI’s health impact assessment on SNAP and sugar sweetened beverages, contact Jessica Lynch at

 [JL1](link to doc that Jess will provide)