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Kucinich: Special Interests Put Ahead of Children’s Health
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a longtime advocate of children’s nutrition, today released the following statement after language was inserted into the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations act that prevents the Department of Agriculture from implementing new school lunch standards.
“I strongly support a number of provisions in H.R. 2112, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, such as the vital funding for low-income food assistance programs. I must voice my outrage at language included in this legislation which blatantly ignores and imperils the health of this country’s school children.
“Just days ago, language was inserted into H.R. 2112 which prevents the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing important new school lunch standards that are scheduled to go into effect next year. The language also allows pizza, if it has at least two tablespoons of tomato paste, to be defined as a vegetable.
“Childhood obesity is a disease affecting 17% children throughout the country. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years and in 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Nationally subsidized meals at schools have a responsibility to feed our children healthy and nutritious food. The USDA has developed new school nutrition standards and is ready to implement them. Instead, we are allowing these industries to make and keep our children sick, to put them at risk for serious cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis and several types of cancer.
“The needs of special interest groups are being put ahead of the health needs of children across the country. By including these provisions, we are allowing the salt, potato growers and frozen food industries to continue feeding the childhood obesity epidemic. According to the Institute of Medicine, a typical high school lunch contains around 1,600 milligrams of sodium; this is more than half of the daily recommended amount.
“One of the largest barriers that school nutrition programs face is cost. This is why I have authored a bill that would eliminate the tax deductibility of advertising and marketing of fast food and junk food that targets children. Despite the fact that research shows that marketing and advertising is a primary factor in increasing obesity rates in children, the tax code allows companies to deduct their advertising and marketing costs from tax returns. The government essentially subsidizes childhood obesity. My legislation has the potential to raise billions of dollars to pay for student nutrition programs.”