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Food Stamp Soda Ban Fizzles Out

The push to ban the use of food stamps for sodas has been defeated by the USDA.


Photo: matt (flickr)

As part of efforts to reduce obesity, NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed for a ban on using food stamps for sugary beverages, like soda.

Cheers From The Soda Crowd

New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the ban last year to combat what he viewed as a culprit in the growing battle against obesity.

However, the USDA argued that such a program would be too difficult to manage.

Bloomberg expressed his disappointment in a statement:

We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything being proposed anywhere else in this country – and at little or no cost to taxpayers.

The decision was met with enthusiasm by the soda industry and advocates for the poor.

New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s Joel Berg says, “This proposal was based on the false assumption that poor people were somehow ignorant or culturally deficient.”

Would Banning Soda Have An Impact?

The Washington Post disagrees that money alone would stop people from consuming sugary beverages.

The correlation between soda price and consumption would go down slightly, but according to a USDA report, the effect on junk food would be more slight than the effect on healthier food, like fruits and vegetables.

Another paper points out that decreased consumption would eventually lead to decreased prices of soda, which could negatively effect the non-food stamp population.

Continuing The Fight

Nonetheless, the decision was met with disappointment by others in the health field, like New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley. Farley calls into question how important fighting obesity was to the USDA.

Bloomberg says he is determined to continue the fight, despite the rejection.

“New York City will continue to pursue new and unconventional ways to combat the health problems that hurt New Yorkers and Americans from coast to coast,” he says.

Read More:

  • Feds nix proposal to ban food stamps for sodas (CBS News)
  • U.S. Rejects Mayor’s Plan to Ban Use of Food Stamps to Buy Soda (New York Times)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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  • Christina Berg

    This is silly, concentrate fruit juices are just as bad as soda, yet politicians cannot imagine taxing, villifying, banning, and having full ad campaigns against it, its popular to ban soda, after all who can be against banning a sugar coca cola with no nutrients right?, but on the surface it raises important questions, first vitamin water has nutrients, but most folks don’t need it from that, so that makes  a weak argument, second, why allow chocolate milkshakes also but not a anti-oxidant tea with a 1/2 teaspoon of honey, bloomy will allow welch grape juice with seltzer with 150 calories per cup but not 11 calories tea!

    Silly, you bet, its as silly as banning sugar and fat itself, by the way individual diets vary, a man uses more calories than women, similarly a blue-collar worker may need more calories than a lawyer.NBA players drink sugary drinks all the time, gatorade, a danish cookie is unhealthy because of the butter, do we ban butter, no, but a wise a nutritional expert would conclude that limiting butter would be great because people lace vegetables and corn in butter, but then it makes no sse. Then we get to the hard questions, is dark chocolate junk food since its candy, what if it has fiber or additives like flax,  is quaker oats and honey junk, mott’s apple sauce, dole’s peaches in syrup vs. an oreo, white bread and rice which breaks down into sugar, unfairly singly out foods on the basis that they taste good is not sound, in fact ask major ethnic groups across the world that have a high risk of heart attacks as to what is eaten, chances are its excess staples and of course not soda, likewise to a diabetic it makes no difference whether you eat white pasta or soda.

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