Study: Banning Soda From Food Stamp Purchases Could Curb Obesity and Diabetes Rates

Posted: Jun 09, 2014 4:10 PM

A new study by researchers at Stanford University is suggesting that making soda and other sugary drinks ineligible for purchase with SNAP funds could result in nearly a quarter million fewer diabetes cases in adults, and over 140,000 fewer obese children.

Banning soda and other sugary drinks from food stamps would lead to significant drops in obesity and diabetes rates among the poor, according to a new study.

It would prevent at least 141,000 kids from getting fat and another 240,000 adults from developing Type 2 diabetes, the kind that usually stems from obesity, according to Stanford University medical researchers in a study published in the June issue of the academic journal Health Affairs.

Over 2 billion SNAP dollars are spent each year on sugary drinks, which accounts for about 58 percent of all beverages purchased with the program.

A 2012 article published in The American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that adults enrolled in SNAP experienced higher rates of obesity and larger waist circumference numbers than people not on the program.

SNAP dollars cannot be used on pet food, cigarettes, or alcohol, but are eligible for items such as candy, energy drinks, and mixers for alcoholic beverages.

Now, before the howling begins, let's go over a few basics: the current version of the USDA "food stamp" program is known as "SNAP." SNAP is an acronym that stands for "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," and SNAP funds are distributed on EBT cards. Note that the first two words in SNAP are "supplemental," meaning "added to something else to make it complete," and "nutrition," meaning "the process of eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly and be healthy."

As soda has no nutritional value, it doesn't make sense to be included on a nutrition program. The government, however, disagrees. Several states and, famously, Michael Bloomberg of NYC, have tried and failed to ban soft drinks from SNAP. Government approval is needed before an item can be deemed ineligible for the program.

If a person on SNAP has that large of a sugar craving, there's no law stopping them from using their own funds to buy soda, candy, or any other item. SNAP isn't designed nor is intended to be the entire food budget for a household. There's no reason why taxpayers should be subsidizing obesity and its related health issues to SNAP recipients.