FOOD AND NUTRITION ACT OF 2008 P.L. 110-246 Richard Krasner HSA 6152 December 2, 2010
• October 2010, proposed ban• First Elected Mayor in 2001• Re-elected in 2005, 2009• Expanded the city’s ban on smoking to almost all indoor spaces such as bars and restaurants• Banned the use of trans-fats Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in restaurants• Required restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus
Sec. 1. SHORT TITLETo strengthen the agricultural economy; to help to achieve a fuller andmore effective use of food abundances; to provide for improved levels ofnutrition among low-income households through a cooperative Federal-State program of food assistance to be operated through normalchannels of trade; and for other purposes.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the UnitedStates of America in Congress assembled, [7 U.S.C. 2011 note] Thatthis act may be cited as the ―Food and Nutrition Act of 2008‖.
Sec. 2. [7 U.S.C. 2011]It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, in order to promotethe general welfare, to safeguard the health and well-being of theNation’s population by raising levels of nutrition among low-incomehouseholds … To alleviate such hunger and malnutrition, asupplemental nutrition assistance program is herein authorized whichwill permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious dietthrough normal channels of trade by increasing food purchasing powerfor all eligible households who apply for participation.
Sec. 3. [7 U.S.C. 2012](k) ―Food‖ means (1) any food or food product for home consumptionexcept alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and hot foods or hot food productsready for immediate consumption other than those authorizedpursuant to clauses (3), (4), (5), (7), (8), and (9) of this subsection, (2)seeds and plants for use in gardens to produce food for the personalconsumption of the eligible household.
Sec. 3. (r)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), ―staple foods‖ means foods inthe following categories: (A) Meat, poultry, or fish. (B) Bread or cereals. (C) Vegetables or fruits. (D) Dairy products.(2) ―Staple foods‖ do not include accessory food items, such as coffee,tea, cocoa, carbonated and uncarbonated drinks, candy, condiments,and spices.
Sec. 4. [7 U.S.C. 2013] (a)…The benefits so received by suchhouseholds shall be used only to purchase food from retail food storeswhich have been approved for participation in the supplementalnutrition assistance program.
One factor scientists identified is consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks by both children and adults. Three Studies ◦ One study with regard to children took place in MA from October, 1995 - May, 1997. ◦ More recent study conducted in CA by CA Center for Public Health Advocacy in collaboration with UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, used data from 2005 CA Health Interview Survey. ◦ Third study enrolled 600 pregnant women & followed 354 Mexican- American children during longitudinal study in Salinas, CA. Study lasted from October 1999 - October 2000. All three studies found a correlation between soda consumption and obesity.
First Study ◦ Enrolled 548 ethnically diverse schoolchildren, ages 7 - 11 from public schools in 4 communities in the Boston, Massachusetts metropolitan area. ◦ For each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drinks consumed, both body mass index (BMI) and frequency of obesity increased. ◦ Adjusted for anthropometric, demographic, dietary and lifestyle variables. ◦ Baseline consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was also associated with changes in BMI. ◦ Results indicated that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with obesity in children.
Second Study ◦ Determined that in CA, 62% of children, 12 – 17 and 41% of children, 2 – 11 drink at least one soda or other sweetened beverage every day. ◦ For adults, 24% of them drink at least one soda or other sweetened beverage on an average day. Adults who drink soda occasionally were 15% more likely to be overweight or obese; ◦ Adults who drink one or more sodas per day are 27% more likely to be overweight or obese than adults who did not drink soda, adjusting for poverty, race and ethnicity. ◦ They found major differences in soda consumption rates by geographic area (by city and county), that suggested that social and environmental factors affect the consumption of soda.
Table 1. Top Ten California Counties where Percentage of Children, Adolescents and Adults Drink One or More Sodas per Day and Percentage of Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese % of Children % of % of Adults Ages 2 – 11 Adolescents Drinking One % of Adults Who County One or More Ages 12 – 17 or More Are Overweight or Sodas One or More Sodas per Obese Sodas Day San Joaquin 44.2 77.8 26.6 70 Imperial 60.7 61.2 36.4 67.1 Merced 55.4 * 32.7 66.6 Kern 55.0 67.2 36.6 66.2 Tulare 44.2 71.0 36.1 66.1Tehama, Glenn, Colusa 36.8 * 30.1 65.7 San Bernardino 49.6 68.5 29.6 64.7 Yuba 50.5 62.9 30.9 64 San Benito 26.4 58.9 25.6 63.9 Madera 39.9 75.3 37.4 63.8Note: * Indicates the estimate was not statistically reliable Source: (CHIS 2005)
Table 2. Percentage of Children, Adolescents and Adults Drinking One or More Sodas per Day and Percentage of Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese in the Top Four California Cities, by Population City % of Children and % of Adults % of Adults Who Are Adolescents Ages Age 18 and Overweight or Obese 2 – 17 Drinking Over Drinking One or more One or More Sodas per Day Sodas per Day Los Angeles 51.9 24.8 55.9 San Diego 46.2 22.8 54.7 San Jose 42.8 21.7 50 San Francisco 36.9 11.5 42.6Source: (CHIS 2005)
Third Study ◦ Overweight determined at ≥95th percentile of the sex-specific BMI for each child’s age. At risk for overweight determined as at or above the 85th percentile, but less than the 95th percentile of sex-specific BMI for age. ◦ Results showed that 55 of the children were overweight (15.5%), and over half (56%) reported consuming any soda in the last week. ◦ Prevalence of overweight children in the cohort higher than prevalence reported (11.1%) for 259 Mexican-American children 2- 5 years of age in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. ◦ Results were higher than those reported for other ethnic groups (non- Hispanic whites, 10.1%; non-Hispanic blacks, 8.4%). ◦ Odds of being overweight increased more than 3-fold among children who drank at least 1 soda per day. ◦ Findings consistent with other similar studies that found an association between sweetened beverages and being overweight.
Two Controversies — Opposition of Anti-hunger groups, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to Bloomberg’s plan; discrepancies in wording in the Act over terms ―food‖ & ―staple foods‖. ―Unlikely alliance‖ between anti-hunger groups & big food/big beverage against Bloomberg proposal. Anti-hunger groups worry it would ―perpetuate the myth‖ that food stamp users make bad choices at supermarket. Anti-hunger groups objections identical to report issued by FNS in 2007 rejecting restrictions on eligible foods under SNAP program. Anti-hunger groups suggest Bloomberg’s proposal picks up on debate in Washington over health care & other issues; how powerful should the federal government be in controlling human behavior? Those opposed to Bloomberg’s proposal argue they are defending free will & the right to make reasonable adult choices. Anti-hunger groups fear that banning ―bad foods‖ will lead to cutting the program.
Contacted Program Analyst at SNAP program to clarify wording of Act. She told me that ―food‖ means any food sold at retail food outlets approved by SNAP. Informed her that ―staple foods‖ does not include sodas and other unhealthy items , such as coffee, tea, cocoa, carbonated and uncarbonated drinks, candy, condiments, and spices. She could not speak any further as Bloomberg’s proposal and wording of Act currently under review. Sent her an email to confirm our conversation; received reply on Monday highlighting sections of Act that she said allow sodas as eligible food. Contacted my congressman’s office in DC, spoke with Legislative Director who told me this was going to be continued and may end up in litigation.
More than 1.7 million people in NYC receive food stamps. Data from the USDA show that sugary drinks account for 6% of food stamp use nationwide. In NYC, that translates to $75 million or more of subsidized sugary drinks a year. Obesity-related illness costs New York State close to $8 billion in medical costs each year.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, several anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups have come out against plan. These groups have aligned themselves with food & beverage lobby to oppose any effort to restrict food stamp users from buying soda & other less nutritious foods. Anti-hunger & anti-poverty groups that have joined forces with food & beverage industries do not believe that poor people should eat healthy foods, only that they have something, anything in their stomachs that will alleviate hunger. If you factor in that the FNS rejects the idea of restricting unhealthy foods for low- income people, you get a very powerful ―cabal‖ mobilized against anyone who wants to improve the health and well-being of the poor. Some of the solutions offered by the Food and Nutrition Service are reasonable, such as using incentives to encourage purchases of selected foods, however they do not elaborate as to how that would work. Both the FNS and Sr. Nutrition Analyst at leading anti-hunger group recommend using food stamps at farmers’ markets, as well as enhancing SNAP nutrition education.
These and many other recommendations are worth considering and implementing. Given the state of the US economy and the desire by some to cut federal spending and eliminate waste and abuse, it may make sense from the point of overall government spending to insure that tax money is being spent wisely. Yet still the problem remains that the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 still defines sodas, candy, cookies, cakes and other bakery goods, and ice cream as eligible food items, while a different section of the Act defines staple foods as not including those items. Since the proposal and the wording is under review, I cannot make a policy proposal, but can offer recommendations.
NYC should be granted a waiver from the USDA to conduct their experiment. Sec. 3. [7 U.S.C. 2012] (k) must be amended to redefine the definition of ―food‖ to eliminate any confusion and discrepancies between that subsection and subsection (r) (1) that defines the term ―staple foods‖ as foods in the following categories: Meat, poultry, or fish; Bread or cereals; Vegetables or fruits; Dairy products. Sec. 3. [7 U.S.C. 2012] (k) must also be amended to include the definitions found in subsection (r) (2). All federal food and nutrition programs (SNAP, WIC, SBP, NSLP, etc.) must be brought in line and all requirements for what constitutes nutritious food must be uniform. The idea of incentives as recommended in the FNS report should be considered, also expanded nutrition education should be adopted, as well as other valid recommendations.
Taxpayers have right to expect their tax dollars are being spent wisely; they must expect their taxes will not be used to purchase unhealthy food products that can damage the health of food stamp users, and add additional burdens on the taxpayers in the form of higher health care expenditures. Supermarket chains must be encouraged to provide low income neighborhoods with stores that will provide them access to a variety of staple foods and nutritious options. They should also provide the same health items found at higher-income stores as Whole Foods Market that can be of benefit in improving their overall well-being. Needs to be more minority-owned, minority-run, and minority-centered supermarkets and grocery stores that cater to particular ethnic groups with nutritious foods from their own culture that comply with all federal guidelines for good nutrition. FNS must stop being a captive of the food and beverage industry; better and more effective regulation needs to be implemented so that industry and the agency do not work hand-in-hand to undermine the health and well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable segment of our society. After review process is completed, states, cities and local municipalities must be allowed to experiment with any methods they deem necessary to help combat obesity in their jurisdictions. Congress must ascertain that all laws pertaining to nutrition, whether for adults, children and infants are interpreted and carried out as intended, and not subject to arbitrary interpretation by the USDA and its subordinate agencies charged with the health and well-being of all Americans.
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