18 Mayors ask Government to Limit Food Stamps for Sodas

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – While sodas have long been linked to health concerns, a recent movement seeks to limit their consumption. It isn’t the FDA or health advocacy groups crying foul at sugary drinks, but instead the mayors of eighteen of America’s largest cities, including New York City, Boston and Chicago.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the mayors seek to prevent food stamps from being used to purchase sugar-laden beverages, citing that “more than one third of American adults are now obese, costing approximately $147 billion per year in associated medical expenses.”

It also stated that “as a result of obesity, this generation of American children is the first to face the possibility of a shorter life expectancy than their parents. It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP’s subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity.”

Last year, more than 47 million Americans were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamps already can’t go towards buying alcohol, cigarettes or hot food, and proposals have been floated for decades to prevent use of the benefit to buy soda and other items seen as unhealthy, such as candy.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement: “We need to find ways to strengthen the program and promote good nutrition while limiting the use of these resources for items with no nutritional value, like sugary drinks, that are actually harming the health of participants… Why should we continue supporting unhealthy purchases in the false name of nutrition assistance?”

Representatives for neither Boehner nor Pelosi commented, but the American Beverage Association responded that obesity is “a complex health condition that affects Americans of all income levels.”

In addition to Bloomberg, the other cities whose mayors signed the letter were: Salt Lake City, Newark, Chicago, Louisville, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, Baltimore, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Madison, Phoenix, Providence and Los Angeles.

Posted by Seth Juneac

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