The legislation would end a federal tax subsidy that would have allowed companies to deduct advertising expenses for unhealthy foods and use the proceeds to provide healthy snacks to low-income schools.
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced bicameral legislation to prevent aggressive marketing of junk food and sugary drinks aimed at children In the last thirty years, obesity rates have doubled among children and tripled among teenagers. The Stop subsidizing the Childhood Obesity Act of 2022 would end the federal tax subsidy that allows companies to deduct marketing and advertising expenses for goods with low nutritional value. The legislation would also use revenue generated by eliminating the subsidy to provide healthy snacks to low-income school children through the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“This legislation will prevent the multi-billion dollar junk food industry from benefiting children and contributing to our nation’s obesity epidemic.” Blumenthal said. “For too long, companies have harmed our children’s diets, development and health by bombarding them with advertisements for unhealthy products. Our move will stop subsidizing a practice that harms American children and fuels disparities in health. I am proud to join Representative DeLauro and Senator Booker in this important effort to hold junk food vendors accountable while investing in healthy school meals.”
“American children are not meeting basic nutritional goals because of companies aggressively marketing unhealthy foods and sugary drinks to children.” DeLauro said. “This aggressive marketing includes food, beverage and restaurant companies spending nearly $14 billion a year on marketing in the United States, with more than 80 percent of advertising promoting unhealthy food choices. In addition, they receive a tax break for these advertising practices that harm our children’s health and earn them billions in revenue. We are facing a double epidemic of obesity and diabetes. It’s time we do our part to stop it. Together with the national strategy of the White House Conference on Nutrition and Hunger Health, the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act helps achieve the goal of addressing the marketing of unhealthy foods by closing the tax loophole that companies use to advertise these products to children.. Congress must act, and by doing so, we will help children make the right nutritional choices and stop letting companies get away with advertising that negatively affects children’s nutritional health”.
“Big food companies advertise their junk food products to our children, taking advantage of how children are forming lifelong food preferences and exacerbating our nation’s childhood obesity crisis. The companies also disproportionately target these ads to children of color, resulting in health disparities.” said Booker. “Taxpayers should not be subsidizing the marketing of junk food products to children. This bill would close the tax loophole that allows companies to deduct the cost of promoting foods of low nutritional value to our children.”
According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health at the University of Connecticut, food, beverage and restaurant companies spend nearly $14 billion a year on food marketing through television, movies, video games, toys and other means, and more than 80 percent were for products high in fat, sugar and salt. A report by the National Academy of Medicine showed that exposure to this advertising, which is often seen by children, affected their food choices, shopping requests, diets and health. Communities of color have been particularly hard hit, with black and Hispanic youth having higher rates of obesity.
The Stop subsidizing the Childhood Obesity Act of 2022 would amend the federal tax code by eliminating a deduction for advertising and marketing directed at children to promote consumption of nutritionally poor foods. Revenue generated by ending the grant would be used to supplement funding for the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to students in low-income schools. According to an NIH-funded study, eliminating this tax subsidy would reduce childhood obesity rates by 5 to 7 percent and save about $350 million in health care costs over ten years.
The Childhood Obesity Grants Act is approved by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
“It’s bad enough that the drive for growth and profit incentivizes food companies to market ultra-processed junk food to children, but it’s utterly perverse that our tax code further incentivizes such marketing by making such expenses tax-deductible” . said CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie. “Companies spend about $2 billion a year marketing food to children. We’re not talking about charity, we’re talking about marketing that affects children’s health, not cancellation-worthy activities. ‘taxes. This legislation sponsored by Senator Blumenthal and Appropriations Chair DeLauro can help spur food marketing in a healthy direction and raise revenue at the same time, something we hope both parties can support.”