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Stephen Clark

A report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, or U.S. PIRG, titled “Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food” found that between 1995 and 2010, the U.S. has spent more than $260 billion on agricultural subsidies.

But while $262 million has gone to apples -- the only fruit or vegetable with a significant subsidy -- nearly $17 billion has spent on four common food additives -- corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils -- known to contribute to weight gain. The group says the taxpayer contribution amounts to 19 Twinkies per taxpayer every year.

And speaking of Twinkies, the report says that of their 37 ingredients, at least 14 of them are made with federal subsidies.

“At a time when childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing, it’s absurd that we’re spending billions of taxpayer dollars to make the problem worse,” said Mike Russo, a policy analyst for U.S. PIRG. “It’s absurd that junk food is subsidized by taxpayers, while fresh fruits and vegetables barely get a bite at the apple.”

The report notes that one in five children ages 6 to 11 are now obese, a rate that has tripled over the last three decades.

“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,” the report reads.

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