NYC Seeks to Bar Soda for Food Stamp Users

Mayor to city's poor: Drop weight
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2010 3:25 AM CDT
"This is just another attempt by government to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink," an American Beverage Society spokeswoman complained.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to add sodas to the list of items New York City's 1.7 million food stamp users can't buy with the stamps. The mayor, as part of an aggressive anti-obesity campaign, has asked federal authorities for permission to ban food-stamp purchases of sugared drinks, the New York Times reports. "This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment," the mayor announced.

Statistics released last month show that 40% of public-school children in the city are overweight or obese, with the proportion rising in poorer areas. Public health experts say that while reducing people's soda consumption is a laudable goal, an educational campaign would be fairer than a ban. "There are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps," said a health policy adviser with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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