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Mayor Bloomberg’s Plan to End Childhood Obesity

May 5, 2011

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Obesity is a rising problem in America, particularly in low-income areas where access to fresh produce is limited. In a country where video games and fast food have replaced playing outdoors and eating nutritious, home cooked meals, it seems that something has to be done to halt the rapid increase in obesity, particularly for children.

Mayor Bloomberg, of New York City, decided to do just that. His newly proposed bill will make it impossible for sugary drinks, which are the leading contributor to obesity, to be purchased with food stamps, under the premise that New Yorkers will use their food stamps to buy healthier food and drink options for their families.

The announcement outraged large soft drink corporations and antihunger groups alike. Many say that the law will discriminate against poor people by telling them what they can and cannot purchase.

According to the New York Times, 1 in 5 New Yorkers are a part of the food stamp program. Estimates are between $75 and $135 million in food stamp benefits, are spent each year on beverages linked to obesity and diabetes, in New York City alone. In turn, these diseases cost the government billions more to treat, all of which comes from taxpayer dollars. 

The pressure is on President Obama as he is charged with the decision to support or oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal. Last year, the president set a goal to end childhood obesity, and vowed to help Americans make healthier choices when it comes to food. First lady, Michelle Obama is also very active in the fight against childhood obesity with her Let’s Move! Campaign, which encourages kids to eat more nutritious meals and spend more time playing outside. 

Supporting Mayor Bloomberg seems like a logical step for the President, however lobbyists, particularly from large food and drink corporations are strongly advising the President to reject Bloomberg’s proposal.

What stance do you think President Obama should take on this issue? Should he allow the purchase of sugary drinks with food stamps, or support Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed law?