Everyone knows that sugary drinks pack no nutritional punch, so it is no surprise that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Patterson are looking to add them to the state’s banned list along with cigarettes and alcohol.
The US Department of Agriculture runs the nation’s food stamp program, and in New York City alone 1.7 million citydwellers are on food stamps. A staggering $2.7 billion worth of food stamp benefits were given out in fiscal year 2009 with $135 million going towards sugary drinks.
Governor Paterson explains the reasoning behind the ban,
The use of food stamp benefits to support the purchase of sugar sweetened drinks not only contradicts the intent of this vital program, but it also subsidizes a serious public health epidemic. There is clear evidence that low-income individuals have higher rates of obesity and are more at risk of becoming obese than other groups.
Did you know that obesity-related illnesses cost New York State residents nearly $8 billion each year? Maybe more mind boggling is the fact that overweight and obese adults make up 57 percent of New York City’s population. Of the 22,300 people that are hospitalized each year for obesity-related diabetes annually, 46 percent reside in low-income areas.
So tell me what happened to fruits and vegetables? Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but if you are on food stamps, maybe sugary drinks shouldn’t be a top priority? Obesity is such an issue in our country that those on food stamps should only be allowed to buy healthy foods. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. But one thing at a time.
The ban on sugary drinks would be temporary so the city could study the effects over a two-year test period.