Stop Subsidizing Obesity

OUR TAX DOLLARS HELP FUEL OBESITY EPIDEMIC—Since 1995, $18 billion has been given away in subsidies to Big Agribusinesses, this money gets used to produce common junk food ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup. These giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese.

PUT JUNK FOOD SUBSIDIES ON A DIET

Almost anything you can think of would be a better use of our tax dollars than subsidizing the ingredients in junk food, but every year more than a billion taxpayer dollars do just that. Huge, profitable corporations, like Cargill and Monsanto, have pocketed $18 billion in the last 16 years and turned subsidized crops into junk food ingredients — including high fructose corn syrup.

These taxpayer giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes are turning into an epidemic.

Many of these wasteful subsidies are set to expire this year, but industry lobbyists are urging Congress to keep them. In 2008 alone, big agribusinesses spent $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

No one in Congress wants to be seen standing up for taxpayer giveaways to junk food. Cutting wasteful spending while attacking childhood obesity could be the perfect storm we need to push past the junk food industry.

Obesity Quick Facts:

  • High-fructose diets impair learning and memory.
  • For each additional can of soda drunk daily, the odds of a child becoming obese increases by about 60%.
  • Childhood obesity has quadrupled in the last 40 years.
  • Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 25%.
  • Once an adult problem, diabetes associated with obesity is increasing among children.

Issue updates

Report | TexPIRG | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

What America Could Do with $150 Billion Lost to Offshore Tax Havens

Many corporations and wealthy individuals use offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—to avoid paying $150 billion in U.S. taxes each year. By shielding their income from U.S. taxes, corporations and wealthy individuals shift the tax burden to ordinary Americans, who must pick up the tab in the form of cuts to public services, more debt, or higher taxes. The $150 billion lost annually to offshore tax havens is a lot of money, especially at a time of difficult budget choices. To put this sum in perspective, we present 16 potential ways that income could be used.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 21 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 21 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to TexPIRG’s new report, Apples to Twinkies 2012. Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Budget, Food

Apples to Twinkies 2012

In this report, we find that in 2011, over $1.28 billion in taxpayer subsidies went to junk food ingredients, bringing the total to a staggering $18.2 billion since 1995. To put that figure in perspective, $18.2 billion is enough to buy 2.9 billion Twinkies every year - 21 for every single American taxpayer.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Food

SENATE VOTE ON FARM BILL A DISAPPOINTMENT

TexPIRG is disappointed in the Senate’s approval of the 2012 Farm Bill, which will send tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to Big Ag.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Budget

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Texas Taxpayers $467 a Year, Each Texas Small Business $2,085

With tax day approaching, a new TexPIRG study, Picking Up the Tab: Average Citizens and Small Businesses Pay the Price for Offshore Tax Havens, found that the average Texas taxpayer in 2011 would have to shoulder an extra $467 tax burden to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that the average additional tax burden shouldered by Texas small businesses added up to $2085 due to the “offshoring” of profits by large corporations.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Budget

Texas First in Transparency

Texas received an “A” and ranks first in the nation when it comes to government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, the third annual report of its kind by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG).

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News Release | TexPIRG | Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 19 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only a Quarter of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are also subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to Apples to Twinkies, a new report by TexPIRG.   Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy less than a quarter of an apple per taxpayer.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Food

President Signed Historic Food Safety Bill

Statement of TexPIRG Public Health Advocate Liz Hitchcock on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that President Obama will sign today, strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority for the first time in seventy years.

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News Release | TexPIRG | Food

Historic Food Safety Bill Headed to the President’s Desk

Statement of TexPIRG Advocate Melissa Cubria on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives, strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority for the first time in seventy years.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2012

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending promotes fiscal responsibility, checks corruption, and bolsters public confidence. In the past few years, state governments across the country have made their checkbooks transparent by creating online transparency portals.

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Report | TexPIRG | Food

Apples to Twinkies

America is facing an obesity epidemic—one that’s hitting children especially hard. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last three decades, with one in five kids aged 6 to 11 now obese. These increases in obesity rates will translate into kids who are at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes, undermining the health of our country and driving up medical costs by hundreds of billions of dollars.

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Report | TexPIRG | Food

Recipe for Disaster

The recall of more than 500 million eggs from two Iowa egg farms is the largest but not the last of 85 recalls that have taken place in the year since food safety reform moved to the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) on July 30, 2009. However, the Senate’s version of the bill – the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) – has languished while waiting for time on the Senate’s floor schedule.

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You Can Help

We have a chance to cut billions in junk food subsidies this year. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

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