Obesity and food assistance programs

I was at a recent presentation on obesity and noted at the end the presenter didn’t seem to want to look at the elephant in the room: government food assistance programs and they role they played in encouraging obesity. Women on Food Stamps have been discovered to higher rates of developing obesity than their counterparts not on the program. WIC now appears to have played an unintended role in encouraging the consumption of high-sugar and high-fat foods by women and infants.

Food stamps can — and are – used to buy untold amounts of junk foods. Minnesota tried to restrict the food stamp program in 2004 via waiver to ban soda and candy bars — and was told NO by the feds.
It appears the junk food industry and grocers zealously guard this flow of dollars from the Food Stamp program (now called SNAP) to them, via the poor food buying choices of obese low-income families.

The same presenter was basically hawking a plan to tax soda pop. So, on the one hand we will tax sugared beverages to discourage the people from buying them — while also using taxpayer dollars to SUBSIDIZE their purchase. Yeah, that makes sense…

If we want to get serious about obesity, particularly among the poor, then look at the foods we, as taxpayers, purchase on their behalf.

To be blunt, let’s stop paying for them to get fat!

I am willing to help someone without means to buy nutritious foods for their family. However, I am not willing to buy mountains of junk food — and then pay for the obesity-related illnesses that follow.

We are quite literally “killing people with kindness” by subsidizing the purchase of unhealthy foods. It is long past the time when we could afford it. It is simply unethical as a society to continue to do it.


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