It's time to stop letting people buy soda and other sugary garbage with food stamps, writes Mark Bittman in the New York Times. At the same time, the government can encourage healthier food choices by increasing the value of the stamps when used to buy fruits and veggies. The food stamp program, known as SNAP, "does a good job of addressing hunger, but encourages the consumption of unhealthy calories," writes Bittman. That may help explain why poor kids are far more likely to be obese than underweight.
Bittman takes a look at an essay penned by three doctors on the difficulty of reducing both obesity and food insecurity among American children. One of the authors argues that the current setup hits taxpayers twice: "We pay once when low-income families buy junk foods and sugary beverages with SNAP benefits, and we pay a second time when poor diet quality inevitably" raises the costs of health care. Bittman agrees and thinks the USDA should set up a pilot program to test new regulations. Read his full column here.