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Originally published January 14 2011

New York proposes that food stamps can't be used to buy sugary drinks that promote obesity

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The city of New York is seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to exclude sugar-sweetened drinks from the list of items that may be purchased using food stamps.

The request is part of the city's wider effort to reduce rates of obesity as a means of improving public health.

"We continue to see a dramatic rise in obesity among children, especially in low-income communities," said Richard Daines, the state's Department of Health commissioner. "This initiative targets a major public health threat -- the high consumption of sugary beverages -- which have little to no nutritional value."

Added sugar in foods is a major source of "empty calories," or calories that provide no nutritional benefit. Empty calories are considered a major source of the United States' twin plagues of obesity and malnutrition.

"Soft drinks are one of the leading sources of unnecessary refined sugars in the diet, especially in children," writes M.D. David Brownstein in the book The Guide to Healthy Eating.

"Soft drinks have absolutely no nutritional value and are full of additives, extra sugars, and extra calories. Most people can fill up on soft drinks and have little appetite for the real food their body needs."

If the city's request is approved, food stamps could no longer be used to purchase any beverage that contains more than 10 calories of sugar in an 8 ounce serving, with the exception of milk products, milk substitutes (such as soy milk) and fruit juices with no added sugar.

Food stamps already may not be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, vitamins, pet food or household goods.

In the past, the USDA has rejected requests similar to New York's. City officials hope that by focusing only on soft drinks rather than on the vague category of "junk food," they will be able to secure the permission they seek.

"This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment," mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

To learn more about the importance of a healthy diet, read the free report Nutrition Can Save America! at

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