Doctors Urge Congress to Shut Down Federal Programs Providing Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE April 15, 2011
Doctors Urge Congress to Shut Down Federal Programs Providing Subsidies for Unhealthy Foods
Where the Money Goes: The Foods That Subsidies Support

Billions of Dollars Pumped into Subsidies for Meat and Other Unhealthy Foods Fueling Health Problems That Kill and Disable Millions

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture is heavily subsidizing the very foods it wants Americans to eat less of, according to a new report from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The report discusses the glaring discrepancy between the government’s agriculture and health policies. Sixty-three percent of the government’s agricultural subsidies for domestic food products in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production, yet the newly released dietary guidelines ask Americans to drastically reduce their intake of these fat- and cholesterol-heavy products. Less than 1 percent of these subsidies have gone to fruits and vegetables.

PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., has written letters to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., chairs of the Senate and House agriculture committees, urging them to cut down subsidies for unhealthy foods, as the government prepares to review the Farm Bill this year.

"As a physician, I urge you to shut down federal programs that pump billions of dollars into direct and indirect subsidies for meat, sugar, and other unhealthy products that are feeding record levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health problems that kill and disable millions of Americans every year,” writes Dr. Barnard. “Most taxpayers have no idea that they subsidize unhealthy foods, but the disturbing facts are laid out in a new chart produced by our organization that accompanies this letter."

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

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