U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced a bill that would end a tax subsidy for the marketing of food and beverages of poor nutritional quality to children. The “Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act” would also shift the money saved from eliminating the tax credit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides fruit and vegetable snacks to elementary school students in low-income schools. Under the current tax code, companies can deduct marketing and advertising expenses from their income taxes.
“Our nation is facing a childhood obesity crisis that demands our urgent attention, and one effective way of combating this epidemic is to ensure that our children are not confronted by persistent advertising from soda, snack, and candy makers,” said Harkin. “Given the enormous public health costs associated with childhood obesity, our bill promotes healthier lifestyles.”
Sen. Blumenthal said, “This measure makes taxpayers allies of health advocates and nutritious eating, rather than aiders and abettors of junk food. By eliminating the nonsensical tax loophole allowing companies to write off the cost of marketing junk food and sugary beverages to children, the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act will encourage companies to put their creative talents toward promoting nutritious foods, and bring in revenue that will be put to good use.” The senators said that the bill could reduce childhood obesity by 7 percent. See Sen. Blumenthal News Release, May 15, 2014.