The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as Food Stamps, has been called America’s single most important program in the fight against hunger by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Today, however, it’s being used as the latest pawn in a battle against beverages.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has petitioned the Department of Agriculture to ban the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages with food stamps in New York City. This is no surprise in a city where we have seen the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launch viral advertising campaigns against the consumption of our industry’s products as an alleged means to reduce obesity.
As we’ve noted before, there is nothing unique about the calories in sugar-sweetened beverages – which includes not just soft drinks, but also beverages such as flavored waters, sports drinks, juice drinks and teas – to justify singling them out for elimination from eligible purchases in the food stamps program in New York City. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, this is just another attempt by government to tell them what they should eat and drink.
Reducing obesity in our country is an admirable goal – and one our industry supports. But to do so, we need to look at comprehensive solutions that address energy balance – that is, balancing calories taken in with calories expended through physical activity. That is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.