NEW YORK, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he wants to prohibit the use of food stamps to purchase soda or other sugared drinks.
Bloomberg asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which pays for and regulates the food stamp program, for permission to block their use for sugary drinks as part of his anti-obesity program, The New York Times reported.
"In spite of the great gains we've made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we're losing ground -- obesity and diabetes," Bloomberg said in a statement. "This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment."
Not everyone supports Bloomberg's two-year test ban. Rather, they say, public education is a better way to reduce consumption of high-calorie soft drinks.
"The world would be better, I think, if people limited their purchases of sugared beverages," said George Hacker, senior policy adviser for the health Promotion project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "However, there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps."
New York State administers food stamps locally, and signed on to Bloomberg's request, but the Agriculture Department denied a similar ban requested by Minnesota in 2004.