Last Wednesday NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg threw out a new tactic in the war against obesity asking the US Department of Agriculture to ban the purchase of soda or other sugary drinks using food stamps. This tactic to limit sugary drinks and sodas is nothing new, after Mayor Bloomberg unsuccessfully tried to impose a tax on the drinks earlier in the year.
Already there are supporters on both sides of the debate. Proponents of the ban say that sugary drinks and soda are an easy way to cut calories and improve overall health. The Department of Agriculture already prohibits the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol using food stamps so for many high calorie and overly processed foods and drinks seem like a logical next step.
On the other side of the aisle those opposing the ban specifically targets low income New Yorkers and minorities. Many supermarkets in low income areas do not tend to provide the healthy alternatives that proponents are suggesting and if they do they are at a significantly higher cost.
This proposal is consistent with moves towards making NYC a healthier place including the ban on trans fats in restaurants and the requirement that restaurants display the calorie counts of the items on their menus.