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Seattle mayor wants to stop food stamp purchases of soda

Last year more than 47 million Americans used food stamps. The benefits can't go to buy alcohol, cigarettes, and the Mayor of Seattle thinks soda should be banned as well. (Linda Thomas photo)

The mayors of Seattle, New York and about a dozen other cities want to ban purchasing soda and sugary drink with food stamps.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn signed on to a letter saying it’s “time to test and evaluate approaches limiting the use of the subsidies for sugar-laden beverages, in the interest of fighting obesity and related diseases.”

“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,” says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a statement. “Why should we continue supporting unhealthy purchases in the false name of nutrition assistance?”

“More than one-third of American adults are now obese, costing approximately $147 billion per year in associated medical expenses,” the letter states. “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.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the food stamp program, declined to comment.

But the American Beverage Association quickly released its own statement. It says obesity is “a complex health condition that affects Americans of all income levels,” not just those on food stamps.

It says the efforts by the mayors of 18 cities to stop food stamps from being used to buy sugary drinks won’t make the nation healthier.


AP contributed to this report

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