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USDA Crushes Bloomberg Anti-Obesity Initiative

August 24, 2011

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Make New York healthier. This is one of the top priorities on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s agenda. So far, he has banned smoking in public places, required calorie counts on menus at fast food restaurants, and removed trans fats from foods served there. His most recent initiative calls for a ban on using food stamps to purchase soda in an effort to curb the obesity problem that plagues the city and the nation.

The Mayor and his administration think that if people aren't allowed to purchase the sugar-laden drinks with government provided food stamps, they will be forced to make healthier choices. The USDA thinks the plan is too complex to implement. They ask, how do you define which drinks are allowed and which are not? They also think it would be too difficult to gauge how effective the initiative would be in combating the nation's number one health crisis.

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack said the department supports incentive-based initiatives rather than imposing restrictions to promote healthier lifestyles. While the mayor was disappointed with the decision, he said the city would continue to seek out "new and unconventional ways to combat health problems that hurt New Yorkers".

While the soft drink industry chalks up a victory, reducing obesity, especially among children, should remain the number one priority among leaders of our country.

Do you agree with the USDA's decision?