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Research says government should restrict food stamp sugary beverage purchases

June 6, 2014
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Research says government should restrict food stamp sugary beverage purchasesAs legislators continue to weigh health concerns and propose modifications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a new study suggests banning subsidies for sugar-sweetened beverages could reduce the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Conducted by the health policy, thought, and research journal Health Affairs, the study examined the impact of two proposed government policies. The policies propose banning the usage of SNAP dollars to buy sugar-sweetened beverages, and a subsidy where 30 cents is credited back to SNAP benefits cards for every SNAP dollar used towards fruit and vegetable purchases.

Using national health and food consumption data from SNAP participants, the study concluded a ban would significantly reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes particularly among adults aged 18-65 and some racial and ethnic minorities. However, researches said the proposed subsidy policy would not have a significant effect on obesity or diabetes, but could double the amount of SNAP users who meet federal vegetable and fruit consumption guidelines.

 The American Beverage Association has been critical of SNAP restrictions in the past, calling attempts to limit purchases misguided attempts to address complex problems of obesity. The association stated, “The bottom line is it’s not the government’s job to grocery shop for our families; it’s ours.”

Instead, the association says there should be a focus on education and not on taxes or bans which are unpopular with voters.

According to a recent survey from Rasmussen Reports, 63 percent of respondents oppose legislation limiting the purchase size of sugary beverages like that in New York City which bans the sale of any cup or bottle of a sugary drink more than 16 ounces.

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