Your Food Stamps Are No Good Here — At Least for Soda0

In the war against obesity and diabetes, New York City has launched a new attack — this time on food stamps. City officials have asked the federal government to bar local food-stamp recipients from using the benefit to buy sodas and other sugary drinks.

In spite of the great gains we’ve made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we’re losing ground—obesity and diabetes,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. There are an estimated 1.7 million residents who receive food stamps in New York City.  According to Mayor Bloomberg’s office, approximately $135 million in federal nutrition benefits goes toward the purchase of sugar-sweetened drinks.

The public health community responded to New York City’s request with caution. George Hacker, senior policy adviser for the Center for Science in the Public Interest argued for a more equitable approach, such as educational campaigns, rather than an outright ban. “The world would be better, I think, if people limited their purchases of sugared beverages,” Mr. Hacker said. “However, there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps.

The proposed ban would not include regular milk, soy milk, rice milk or powdered milk, nor would it include fruit juices without added sugar.

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Sources:  New York Times; Wall Street Journal.

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