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Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Mar-Apr;29(3):405-10. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0102.

Agricultural policy and childhood obesity: a food systems and public health commentary.

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Food and Health Program, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


For thirty-five years, U.S. agriculture has operated under a "cheap food" policy that spurred production of a few commodity crops, not fruit or vegetables, and thus of the calories from them. A key driver of childhood obesity is the consumption of excess calories, many from inexpensive, nutrient-poor snacks, sweets, and sweetened beverages made with fats and sugars derived from these policy-supported crops. Limiting or eliminating farm subsidies to commodity farmers is wrongly perceived as a quick fix to a complex agricultural system, evolved over decades, that promotes obesity. Yet this paper does set forth a series of policy recommendations that could help, including managing commodity crop oversupply and supporting farmers who produce more fruit and vegetables to build a healthier, more balanced agricultural policy.

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