The Texas Medical Association, at its annual business meeting in San Antonio over the weekend, debated a proposal which would bar food stamps from being used to buy unhealthy sugar sweetened beverages, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Several types of items are now barred from purchases with what are now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, such as beer, wine, liquor cigarettes and tobacco, as well as non food items like pet food, as well as foods which are purchased to be eaten on the premises.
But Dr. Jason Turk says sugary drinks should be added to the list.
"Carbonated soft drinks which are not diet drinks, added sugar fruit juices, fruit aids, lemonade, lime aid, and some sugar sweetened sport drinks," Turk told 1200 WOAI news, running down the list of the items which would be banned from SNAP purchases under the TMA proposal.
He says it is silly for taxpayers to pay for programs to convince people to eat healthier, and then turn around and pay for unhealthy foods.
"We know, based on good research, that sugar sweetened beverages contribute to the epidemic of obesity which affects all Texans," he said.
Some people may be shocked to learn that 'fruit juices' are on the list of items that would be banned, but Turk says many bottlers put words like 'fruit' in the name of a product to make it 'sound' healthier than it actually is.
"People need to understand that just because there is fruit juice, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily healthy for you," he said.
Turk says any resolution would have to go to the American Medical Association and to Congress, because even though SNAP is administered by the state, through the Lone Star Card program, the benefits are funded largely by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and it is up to the feds to determine what can and cannot be purchased with Food Stamps.