Mayor Bloomberg has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to authorise the elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages from food stamp allowances

Mayor Bloomberg has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to authorise the elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages from food stamp allowances

The American Beverage Association (ABA) has hit back at the New York City mayor's attempt to eliminate the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages from the Food Stamps programme in the capital.

On Friday (8 October), Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he had petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to authorise a two-year programme to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from food stamp allowances, a system that provides assistance to low- and no-income people living in the US.

"There is no denying that childhood obesity is an epidemic and there's no denying that it's hurting our children in low income households the most," Bloomberg told MSNBC. "That's why we're joining today with [New York] Governor David Patterson to ask the US Department of Agriculture to authorise a two-year programme to eliminate sugar sweetened beverages from allowable food stamp allowances."

A spokesperson for the ABA however, said the programme is "just another attempt by government to tell New Yorkers what they should eat and drink", and would have an unfair impact on those who can least afford it.

"If we want to reduce obesity in this country, we need to look at comprehensive solutions that address balancing calories in with calories out," the spokesperson said. "Importantly, the beverage industry has taken and continues to take bold action to help address the complex public health issue of obesity.

"The industry has changed the beverage landscape for children and adolescents," the spokesperson continued. "As a result of this initiative, calories available from beverages in schools have been cut by 88%."