About 50 percent of the formula sold in the U.S. goes to families using WIC. Formula-fed babies are more likely to be overweight, suffer ear infections, have allergies and, if you believe some of the data, have lower IQs than breast-fed infants.
Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute notes that while he can recall visiting rural Mississippi in the 1960s and seeing severe cases of malnutrition, the problem among the poor today is more likely to be obesity. Today, 70 percent of low-income Americans are overweight, compared with 60 percent of the non-poor.
The mean intake of poor children aged 6-11 was 2,000 calories a day in 1994 compared with 1,969 calories for non-poor children of the same age. President Bill Clinton's secretary of agriculture, Dan Glickman, acknowledged that "The simple fact is that more people die in the United States of too much food than of too little, and the habits that lead to this epidemic [obesity] become ingrained at an early age."
We are pushing food at the poor as if hunger and malnutrition still crouched at the door when the bigger threat these days is saturated fat and excess sugar. The Food Stamp program arguably needs a massive reform, offering cash grants instead of vouchers or credit cards, which encourage over-consumption. Is it too much to ask that politicians and journalists (that photo of Gov. Kulongoski showed up everywhere) address today's problems and not those of 40 years ago?
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