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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Banning Sugary Drinks from Food Stamp Purchases

Friday, November 19, 2010

Banning Sugary Drinks from Food Stamp Purchases

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson are requesting permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add sugary drinks to the list of goods banned by the food stamps program in an effort to lower health costs for the poor related to obesity (“N.Y. Seeks to Ban Sugary Drinks from Food Stamps Buys”). 

Gay men have shorter life expectancies than straight men, in part due to the increased likelihood of contracting aids.  Aids is an expensive disease to treat.  Would the Mayor and Governor suggest that the government ban sex between poor gay men?


  1. Katie Cawthon29/11/10 8:38 PM

    I can understand why they would try and ban sugary drinks from the poor to lower health costs, but why should the wealthy be able to enjoy sugary drinks and not the poor? If lowering the health costs is really the concern then sugary drinks should be banned from everyone. This is very unlikely, though. As for the gay men, I feel like this is a very far fetched comparison but for everything to be equal.. technically sex between them would have to be banned though. Its just hard to relate two totally different subjects like these.

  2. Obesity rates have increased more than ever, maybe that the reason behind the proposal of banning soda suggested by N.Y Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson. Altough this might not help at all is a way to begin addressing the subject. This might sound good but what dose'nt is that people with low income now will not be able to enjoy U.S favorite bevarege which is unfair for a "Free" Country.
    And if we are free indeed, then gay men should not be banned either, yes, aid's treatment is expensive but obesity health diseases are too. These expenses should only be a burden to those willing to take the risks and dangers.

  3. Maddie Morris6/12/10 10:01 PM

    This can be controversial in many ways because in some ways it is discriminating against a certain group of people. In the first case the poor do not get to enjoy sugary drinks, and in the second gay men do not get to have sex. Technically for everything to be equally among every citizen the Mayor and Governor would have to suggest the banning of all sugary drinks from everyone and or banning all sex from everyone too. In either cases that will most likely never happen.

  4. Corey Castillo15/12/10 11:00 PM

    It seems that almost everything people enjoy have consequences. For example, if a person sun tans too much the person is more likely to develop skin cancer. So lets ban tanning? Soda causes obesity. So ban soda? Diet soda is thought to cause cancer. So ban diet sodas? Playing football may lead to brain damage. So ban football? The thing is life itself is dangerous. If the government tries to make life safe, we would be left with no room to live. I do not think it is right for the government to try and take control of situations like obesity. Instead of controlling us, educate us to make wiser decisions, and let us live.

  5. James Emmele22/1/11 7:28 PM

    We have seen many side-effects from the government assistance programs developed in the 1960s. One is a sense of entitlement to the aid given any circumstance. The help received from these types of programs are aimed at those who can truly not help themselves; those who are somehow incapacitated and unable to provide for themselves and their family.

    In my opinion, food stamps are the equivalent of being given a loaf of bread to survive until a more permanent solution can be found. Those who fund the aid, including all tax payers, should have a say in how the money is spent. An acceptable alternative is to just provide a set meal every day instead of furnishing food stamps.

    Considering the increased risk of obesity in the lower income levels, partly due to poor nutrition, then by limiting their choices we are actually providing a service to those who may not have access to the resources to learn why their health is decreasing.

    The analogy you draw between food stamps and sex between poor homosexual men is flawed. The gay men are not reliant on the government to have sex. The increased risk of HIV/AIDS will not be financially covered by the government. The food stamp recipients cannot purchase food without the direct intervention of the government.

  6. Carl Schulz24/1/11 4:29 PM

    I have to say that the obesity rates and type II diabetes levels in the City of New York are staggering. More than once I have been in a grocery store line and been disgusted at what my tax dollars are going toward. I do not have a problem with food stamps for those who truly need it, although I am not an entitlement advocate. However, if you are using someone else's money to buy your food, then those handing out the money have the right to decide what it is spent on. The gay analogy does not work for me because consenting adults are not on a government entitlement program. If they were, then yes the government could be in their bedroom with them. I want the government out of our personal lives but entitlements allow the government to create dependents, and as long as there are those who look to the government for help then we will have these debates.

  7. Lori Hodges24/1/11 7:40 PM

    I don't have s problem with banning sugary drinks from food stamp recipients. In an effort to reduce health care cost and promote healthy individuals, perhaps they should be banned for everyone. We all know that snack foods, etc. cost more for consumers than your well-balance food items do and sugar has been linked to liver disease and insulin resistance. These are all problems that raise the health care cost for everyone. The families on food assistance could actually get more quantity and quality of food too. The gay example is a separate issue in my opinion. Those lifestyles are self chosen and not dependent on government assistance. Although, I do think that health care premiums for individuals with an alternate lifestyles should be increased just as it will eventually be for the obese individuals.

  8. As someone that receives food stamps, I do agree that sugary drinks should be banned. I think that food stamps should only be used to buy healthy foods. I don't think that people should be enabled to buy products that are a leading cause of obesity especially for children. They need to be encouraged to buy more fruits and vegetables and other healthy snacks. But along those lines, if healthier foods were cheaper, more people would probably buy them. For example, you can buy an off-brand 2 liter of soda for anywhere between 50 cents and a dollar, whereas one gallon of fruit juice could cost you three dollars. Apples are 1.28/pound while a bag of chips may be 1.50..

    Along the lines of gay sex- I'm not really sure that the government should ever be involved in the personal lives of citizens. Sex is a given right to humans. You can sleep with who you want to, whenever you want to. I don't condone gay sex in the least bit but I truly believe that the government would be infringing on our constitutional rights if they tried to ban gay sex.
    The reason that I don't have a problem with the government getting involved by banning sugary drinks is because they are the ones providing the money to buy those sugary drinks. The government has nothing to do with sex though. If the government and therefore the people, are helping others buy food, it needs to be food that's purchased not sugary drinks.

  9. Stephanie Tunches26/1/11 10:55 PM

    I agree with one of the previous posts which said that banning sugary drinks to lower health costs should also be done to the wealthy if "lowering health costs" is really such a large concern. I also think that it would be smart to only give out food stamps for healthy food as was also mentioned above. Healthy food may be more expensive, but in the long run it's better for us all.

    As for the government and sex- in general, I dont feel that the government should ever be THAT involved in anyone's life.