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  • Obama Administration Uses Stimulus Money to Support Ads Attacking Soda

    As part of President Obama’s economic stimulus, the federal government has doled out $230 million for communities to combat obesity rather than create jobs or boost the economy. In many cases, the funds are being used to attack American-made products like Coke and Pepsi.

    Advertisements undermining soft drinks can be found in cities from coast to coast. New York’s “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign used grotesque pictures and misleading information that even the city’s chief nutritionist called into question. The city received $15.5 million in federal funding for its anti-obesity efforts.

    In Philadelphia, the city spent $2.4 million on ads attacking soda. That was enough money to add 52 police officers, 54 firemen, 57 paramedics, 58 teachers or 88 EMTs.

    Similar anti-obesity campaigns have popped up in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle and evenTopeka, KS. In the case of Pima County, home to Tucson, AZ, media partners include taxpayer-supported PBS, the Arizona Public Media and NPR. In Hawaii, the theme is “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat.”

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has provided stimulus funding to 25 communities for a variety of anti-obesity measures, including advertisements. Several are major U.S. cities, collecting upwards of $15 million. The funding is part of a $230 million initiative called “Communities Putting Prevention to Work.”

    The federal government doesn’t mandate how communities use the money to combat obesity, but the CDC does recommend a five-pronged approach that includes advertising, limiting availability of sugary beverages, menu labeling, higher prices and exercise. Information about the grants and guidelines are available online from the CDC.

    The 2009 economic stimulus, of course, was sold to Congress as a $787 billion package to revive the economy by creating or saving millions of jobs. And while some of the money for these anti-obesity efforts could arguably create temporary jobs — such as construction of a bike path or walking trail — there’s growing concern about the use of the money for advertisements.

    Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, last week expressed alarm that taxpayer money was being used for such a purpose:

    These hard earned taxpayer dollars that were intended to stimulate the economy and create jobs are instead funding scare campaigns against perfectly safe and legal products, and the companies that make them. At a time when our nation faces an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent, I find it outrageous that federal and city agencies would aggressively advertise against American products made by American workers. Not only is this a gross misplacement of spending priorities, it is another example of a ‘government knows best’ mentality that often permeates Washington.

    DesJarlais cited an effort called Smart Taxpayers Exposing Waste, an initiative launched on Facebook by the American Beverage Association. It ran the numbers on Philadelphia’s advertising campaign and has documented the cost of anti-obesity measures in other cities.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Obama Administration Uses Stimulus Money to Support Ads Attacking Soda

    1. DWC says:

      As is typical of republicans, especially conservative right politicians, pundits and bloggers like you – mislead and misrepresent is too often what you do to make controversy. Scott DesJarlais' quote "a group called Smart Taxpayers Exposing Waste (STEW) exposed $230 million of stimulus grant money being used to run ads attacking America’s soft drink companies." Sounds like all $230 million being spent on ads, doesn't it? When are people like you going to get how critical the obesity epidemic is in this country, what it is costing businesses and national security in terms of health care costs, lost productivity and the reduced numbers of youth who are eligible for military service? And you are worried about an ad campaign that is targeted to people to make better choices instead of drinking so much SSBs? Ah, its all about personal responsibility, right? Me thinks your priorities are skewed in the wrong direction……

      • lights on says:

        Not the role of government to make up our minds or influence our behavior or provide us with government health care! Me thinks you listen too much to one source and lost your ability to think further(hopefully temporary set-back.)

        Learn what the role of government is/was before you give up America's, your freedom and all abilities to think, learn and know for yourself!

        • "or provide us with government health care." You are misinformed, the government is not providing health care. That would be a single payer system, as seen in Canada and many countries in Europe. Every peer reviewed comparison shows that those countries have better aggregate health. If you would like to put individual freedom above your health go right ahead. You're clearly part of that "If you can't pay for life saving surgery, you should die" crowd.

      • Baldgroove says:

        So since it is only 20 million that makes it ok?

      • Paulnashtn says:

        Obesity is NOT a federal responsibility

    2. Maura says:

      I drink a can almost every day, and I've been 116 lbs. for the past six years. Proof that not everyone that drinks soda is going to "drink themselves fat." Get a grip, Obama.

    3. Tony Jewell says:

      Hm. Perhaps it stimulated ad firms and media outlets?!?

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Isn't Coke and Pepsi part of our free enterprise system and capitalism? Is their any doubt why Obama is
      using our tax dollars, in the form of "stimulus " to attack the system? Wait a munute, that exactly what
      the OWS anarchist are doing. Does anyone understand why Obama and the left is supporting the movement?

      • Let me see if I understand you correctly, you believe that the money that was allocated for this purpose was hand chosen by Obama not to sway public opinion about drinking high calorie sodas but because he secretly hates America and especially Capitalism within America and did this speciffically to undermine said ideologies in hopes that it will eventuially bring down the entire system that he hates so much? GENIUS! Wow I didn't realize you right wingers were soooooo intelligent!

    5. Bobbie says:

      it's not honest or well spent tax monies put into advertisements that are speculative and manipulate personal choice. Never the role of government in a free country unless of course, the president's transformation of OUR COUNTRY doesn't include "free" in it's rational sense.

      These issues are up to the market place. Well, just remove government and that's who it's up to. But the gall, they verbally compromise our safety (their priority) by suggesting there isn't enough money for police and firefighters when the gall of it all, it's the role of the state government! What scary people we are left to deal with. We have to fight through all obstacles!!! Big and small. Vatican's next!

      It's not government's role or the purpose of tax dollars to stimulate ad firms and media outlets!

    6. Bobbie says:

      oops, one more thing. our dentist told us years ago and throughout, pop is bad for teeth and we pay him, TO!!!! Get the government and it's costs out of our personal lives and health, please!

    7. Bobbie says:

      I'm sorry you guys, one more thing! How come diet pop is taxed just as much when the focus is on sugary pop?

    8. nealr says:

      Gee. 10 pounds per year on 1 soda a day. I should weigh at least 770 lbs. now.

    9. allosaur says:

      I'm sick of that O = 0 wasting OUR money. I'll be so glad when the Big Spender-In Chief goes away.

    10. USA says:

      Guess he wants to be a dictator!!

    11. First of all, Barack Obama did not go through the stimulus line by line and determine what money went where. That's congress' job. I love that we blame legislation that we don't like on the President. We have checks and balances in this country for a reason. The executive does not create the law, you idiots. He/She only has the capability to persuade it relative to their political clout on the hill. Some congressional representative probably campaigned on this issue and pushed hard to get it in the bill.

      Lastly, if you want to talk about how much the government spends on advertising, look at the $300m that was awarded to four firms to produce "pro-US propaganda" in Iraq in 2008. Literally, the line item on the defense budget was "pro-US propaganda," that's not hyperbole.

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