Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to make it impossible for the 1.7 million New Yorkers who rely on food stamps to use their aid for sugary drinks.
“Sugar-sweetened drinks are not worth the cost to our health, and government shouldn’t be promoting or subsidizing them,” Bloomberg told reporters at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital’s Diabetes Resource Center Thursday, where he was joined by the governor and health officials.
In New York City, 60 percent of adults and 40 percent of children are overweight or obese, and Bloomberg believes that sugary drinks are “the single biggest” factor contributing to this trend.
Food stamp users spend between $75 million and $135 million on the drinks each year and many have expressed outraged at what they see as an attempt to control what they drink.
A Fuss Over Fizz
In a 2007 study titled “Effects of Soft Drink Consumption on Nutrition and
Health,” found clear associations of soft drink intake with increased energy intake and body weight.
Soft drink intake has also been associated with lower intakes of milk, calcium, and other nutrients and with an increased risk of several medical problems including pancreatic cancer, osteoporosis, and potassium deficiency.
Although many food stamp users agree that limiting sugary drinks is a good health decision, they reject Bloomberg’s notion that they should have to pay for these items out of their own pocket.
Some opponents of the ban claim these beverages are an important part of their diet, and should be treated just like other types of “food.” Even those that don’t regularly consume sugary drinks are afraid that the proposal indicates a dangerous trend in which the government dictates what people can and can’t eat.
Could they be right?
Bloomberg isn’t the only U.S. politician that has felt compelled to limit sugary drink consumption in the name of better constituent health.
Earlier this year, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that bans vending machines on city property from dispensing Coke, Pepsi and other calorically sweetened beverages. Sports drinks and artificially sweetened water also are included in the ban.
Supporters of the drink bans maintain that food stamps shouldn’t subsidize, in the name of nutrition, a product that causes obesity and a lifetime of health problems (DNA Info).
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