Doc­tors De­mand Feds Stop Giv­ing the Poor Junk Food

Trillions - - In This Issue -

Garbage in garbage out.

Junk food can con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to poverty. People who don't eat well can suf­fer cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, mood swings and dis­ease.

Chil­dren who eat junk food are likely to eat junk food as adults, have a greater chance of be­ing poor and sick and pass the poverty on to their chil­dren.

So, why does the fed­eral govern­ment en­cour­age the poor to con­sume junk food that will make them dumb and sick and un­able or un­will­ing to work?

The Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (AMA) adopted a res­o­lu­tion on June 13 that calls on the fed­eral govern­ment to im­prove the health­ful­ness of the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram (SNAP), for­merly known as Food Stamps.

SNAP keeps some poor people poor by giv­ing them money to buy junk food in­stead of food that is nu­tri­tious.

The res­o­lu­tion, which was co-in­tro­duced by the Med­i­cal So­ci­ety of the District of Columbia and the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy, “re­quests that the fed­eral govern­ment (1) sup­port Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram (SNAP) ini­tia­tives to in­cen­tivize health­ful foods and dis­in­cen­tivize or elim­i­nate un­health­ful foods and (2) har­mo­nize SNAP food of­fer­ings with those of Spe­cial Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion Pro­gram for Women, In­fants, and Chil­dren (WIC).” Dur­ing the AMA House of Del­e­gates meet­ing in Chicago on June 11, Physi­cians Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Neal Barnard, M.D., tes­ti­fied on be­half of the res­o­lu­tion.

“Eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged pa­tients are at the high­est risk di­a­betes, obe­sity, and other se­ri­ous prob­lems. A big part of the so­lu­tion ought to come from SNAP. One in seven Amer­i­cans par­tic­i­pates in SNAP, and if the pro­gram filled their gro­cery carts with veg­eta­bles, fruits, grains, and legumes, it would go a long way for health,” said Dr. Barnard in his tes­ti­mony. “But SNAP re­tail­ers are paid dol­lar-for-dol­lar for candy, en­ergy drinks, sausage, cheese, and other prod­ucts no one needs.”

Dr. Barnard and Yale Univer­sity’s David Katz, M.D., re­cently edited the “The Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram’s Role in Ad­dress­ing Nutri­tion-re­lated Health Is­sues,” a spe­cial sup­ple­ment of the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pre­ven­tive Medicine.

In the sup­ple­ment, Dr. Barnard rec­om­mended that SNAP in­cor­po­rate a Healthy Sta­ples pro­gram mod­eled after WIC. SNAP would only re­im­burse re­tail­ers for sell­ing health­ful foods. They would stop prof­it­ing from sell­ing their cus­tomers dis­ease-caus­ing junk foods. SNAP re­tail­ers would in­stead of­fer a range of health­ful plant-based foods (with prepa­ra­tion tips and easy meal ideas): grains such as oat­meal, whole-grain bread, pasta, and tor­tillas; fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned veg­eta­bles; dry or low-sodium canned beans; fruit, and ba­sic mul­ti­ple vi­ta­mins.

Cur­rently, 55% of SNAP ben­e­fits are used for un­healthy meats, sweet­ened bev­er­ages, pre­pared foods and desserts, cheese, salty snacks, candy, and su­gar, while only 24% goes to fruits, veg­eta­bles, grains, nuts, beans, seeds, and spices.

A 2015 USDA study com­pared SNAP par­tic­i­pants with in­come-el­i­gi­ble non­par­tic­i­pants, and found that SNAP par­tic­i­pants had poorer over­all diet qual­ity and con­sumed more calo­ries from solid fats, added sug­ars, soda, and al­co­hol and con­sumed fewer veg­eta­bles and fruits. These nu­tri­tional dif­fer­ences were deemed re­spon­si­ble for the higher obe­sity rates among SNAP par­tic­i­pants.

A study in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health found that SNAP par­tic­i­pants have an in­creased risk of death from heart dis­ease and three times the di­a­betes mor­tal­ity rate when com­pared to in­come-in­el­i­gi­ble non­par­tic­i­pants. Re­searchers also ob­served an in­creased risk for SNAP par­tic­i­pants when com­pared to in­come-el­i­gi­ble non­par­tic­i­pants.

SNAP par­tic­i­pants who eat junk food in­crease health care costs for ev­ery­one else and kids who eat junk re­duce the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion be­cause junk food causes be­hav­ioral and learn­ing dis­or­ders that dis­tract teach­ers from teach­ing.

Tax­pay­ers should not be pay­ing to keep people poor by buy­ing them junk food.

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