Governmental restrictions on individual food choices are a delicate matter, especially when it comes to setting rules on how recipients of Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program benefits should spend their allotted stamps. Mark Bittman opines on The New York Times that SNAP money should be spent only on nutritious food. To make this happen, he says that subsidies for sugar-sweetened beverages must be phased out and ‘real food’ must be made more accessible.
Salon news editor Alex Halperin finds that “Bittman doesn’t discuss the paternalism inherent in telling people what they can consume.” He asks, “Would public health be better served by less onerous, equal opportunity restrictions like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban of sodas larger than 16 ounces?”
Jennifer Lawinski of The Stir wholeheartedly disagrees with the NYT columnist, finding him “out of line.” She suggests that no one should tell “people what they can and can’t spend their money on.” The writer believes that a ban on soda would be a slippery slope toward further intervention. After all, “it seems like you could make any sort of argument for or against the healthfulness of lots of food.”
Men’s Health and Self would surely agree with that last statement.