Jillian Michaels wants to put the federal budget on a healthy diet. The no-nonsense health and wellness expert from television’s “The Doctors” is urging Congress to slim down the nation’s bulging budget deficit by making five cuts to food and agricultural programs that promote the production and consumption of unhealthy foods.
The five-step plan, laid out in a report from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), could save American taxpayers $383 billion over 10 years—and reduce obesity rates and health care costs for decades to come.
“Cutting subsidies for unhealthful foods would trim the nation’s budget—and Americans’ waistlines,” says Michaels in letters delivered today to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Some of our government’s current policies and programs actually promote obesity and other diseases by supporting the production and consumption of the very foods that contribute to… health problems.”
She adds that diets high in meat, cheese, processed foods, and sugar can put Americans on track to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other costly diseases.
Michaels is joining PCRM experts to propose eliminating the agricultural direct payment program, crop insurance, and agricultural pollution clean-up programs, since these programs directly or indirectly support the production and consumption of meat, cheese, sugar, and other unhealthful foods.
PCRM’s proposal also recommends reconfiguring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp program, to provide incentives to promote fruits and vegetables and exclude processed meat, candy, and other junk food items from the program.
“Cutting subsidies for cheeseburgers and sodas will mean healthier people and a huge savings in the process,” says PCRM president and nutrition researcher Neal Barnard, M.D. “SNAP is under threat when more Americans than ever need help. These reforms save SNAP and will serve more people for less money with healthier food.”
The report also recommends prioritizing healthful commodity purchases for school meal programs to fight childhood obesity.