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A 20-ounce sugar-sweetened drink can contain as many as 16 packets of sugar.
There still are many unhealthful products New Yorkers could purchase with food stamps, including potato chips, ice cream and candy. But officials said the proposal targets sugary drinks because they are the largest contributor to obesity.
"We continue to see a dramatic rise in obesity among children, especially in low-income communities," state Department of Health Commissioner Richard Daines said. "This initiative targets a major public health threat -- the high consumption of sugary beverages -- which have little to no nutritional value."
More than half of adult New York City residents are overweight or obese, along with nearly 40 percent of public school students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
City officials said lower-income residents are most likely to drink one or more sugar-sweetened drink a day; Type 2 diabetes is also twice as common among poor New Yorkers compared to the wealthiest.
The USDA had no immediate comment Thursday on the proposal.
The department recently launched a pilot program to encourage food stamp recipients to make more healthful choices in their food shopping. Under the program, involving 7,500 randomly selected households in Massachusetts, participants get 30 cents added to their benefit balances for every dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables -- which reduces the cost of fresh produce by almost one-third.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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