The Iowa Public Interest Research Group has just taken a look at how U.S. government food subsidies are being allocated. They made a pretty shocking observation. More government subsidies are being spent on junk food than food with any nutritional benefit.
The study analyzed the amount of money the government spent buying food from 1995 to 2010.They found that almost $17 billion was spent on junk food. This food included foods from manufacturers who exclusively used corn syrup, corn starch and vegetable oils as key ingredients.
Apples were the only food that the government spent any meaningful amount of money on. Altogether they spent about $262 million on apples. Why is our government spending 65 times as much money on Twinkies and skittles as apples?
Despite all the efforts the government has taken to address concerns of childhood obesity, they have not done much to make the problem better. The food pyramid they came up with in 1992 turned out to be completely bogus. At least the Department of Agriculture was making an attempt to address these issues then.
Now the government is actively making key health problems such as childhood obesity and diabetes worse. Ironically, this study comes out at a time when many politicians such as Michele Obama are campaigning to end childhood obesity. They may have to reevaluate the programs their own government has come up with and do something different.
Ultimately, U.S. taxpayers are the one’s footing the bill!
When you break it all down, every taxpayer in the country is paying for 17 Twinkies. Of the 37 key ingredients in Twinkies, 14 of them are subsidized by the government.
Michael Russo is a policy analyst for the Public Interest Research Group. He finds it absurd that we are spending so much of our taxpayers’ money on junk food when we have a childhood obesity problem.
Russo notes that thirty years ago, only one in fifteen children between the ages of 6 and 11 was obese. Today, one in five children in that age range is. In addition to all the money taxpayers are spending on junk food now, the obesity epidemic is going to equate to hundreds of billions of dollars in medical costs.
Following the debt ceiling debacle, the government is looking to cut about $1.2 trillion from the budget. As Michele Obama and politicians across the country take a harder look at nutrition, they may have to address the amount of money the federal government is spending on junk food.
The federal government is expected to cut payments to farmers to about 40% what they were giving them in 2004. As they do so, serious decisions will need to be made on what types of food they are spent on.
Russo and others in his field are putting pressure on Congress to make these decisions. They hope Congress will recognize that they are fueling the obesity epidemic and force them to get their priorities straight.