CNN Doc: We Need More Food Handouts for the Obese

     You can’t get much more ironic than wanting more funding for federal food grants for obese people. But that was essentially what Dr. Sanjay Gupta pushed on CNN “American Morning.”

     “WIC is on the chopping block,” said the CNN chief medical correspondent on April 26.

     Gupta complained about what he called a potential $145 million Bush budget cut for the federal grant program Women, Infants and Children (WIC). It is a program that’s “designed to improve the health of low-income women and their children by providing food and counseling on good eating and health care,” according to Gupta.

     The first problem with his report was that the program’s budget isn’t being “slashed” as Gupta said.

     The funding “cut” is not actually a cut, but a lower than expected increase. WIC’s budget is continuing to grow.

     According to UPI, the proposed 2008 budget includes $5.4 billion “in nutrition assistance for low-income mothers and children under age 5.” That’s about a $200 million increase from 2007, when the WIC budget was $5.2 billion, according to a United Way of America breakdown of the Bush administration budget for that year.

     Gupta’s other complaint was that WIC participants don’t get the best nutrition because the vouchers are for “cereal, breads, crackers, milk products.” “Checks for fresh fruits and vegetables don’t exist,” he said. WIC was set to institute produce checks in 2008, but now that is in danger, according to Gupta.

    “You see the problem then (earlier) was malnutrition, not obesity,” stated Gupta.

     No one in the segment pointed out the irony of federal vouchers for food now that obesity is a problem.

     Instead Gupta quoted an unidentified man who complained about the possibility of decreased funding:

     “It really threatens the availability of fresh, frozen, canned fruits and vegetables, the culturally diverse foods. The changes that are needed to reduce the incidence of obesity and overweight we’re finding most with mothers and children,” he said.

     Gupta did not include anyone who pointed out that the program’s budget is growing –  not shrinking – or any critics of the program itself.