In case it wasn’t obvious that cutting the federal food stamp program is a bad idea, a new study showing that the number of poor people seeking hospital treatment for diabetes-related hypoglycemia tends to spike the last week of the month — when their food stamps have run out and they’re forced to skip meals — ought to confirm it.
The nine-year study, released in the journal Health Affairs, showed that diabetic food stamp recipients were 27 percent more likely to go to the hospital with symptoms of low blood sugar (dizziness, sweating and nausea) at the end of the month than at the beginning. Among higher-income diabetics, the numbers seeking treatment for hypoglycemia was relatively constant throughout the month.
The problem is, blood sugar levels drop as food intake is reduced. So as diabetics — many of whom are low-income — start running out of food toward the end of every month, they tend to start having health problems.
With the average cost of a hypoglycemia-related hospital admission nearly $1,200 11 years ago, and 25 million Americans being diabetic, it argues strongly for either raising the average $133-a-month food stamp allowance (instead of cutting it, as House Republicans want) or distributing benefits more than once a month so diabetic recipients can do a better job balancing their diets.