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Rudd Radar

Legislation Introduced to End Taxpayer Subsidy for Junk Food Marketing to Children

May 15, 2014

Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Tom Harkin have introduced legislation today that would close a loophole that allows companies to claim a tax deduction for marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children.

Under the current federal tax code, companies are able to deduct marketing and advertising expenses from their income taxes, including expenses for marketing junk food to children. 

The Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act of 2014 would require that money generated by the elimination of the tax subsidy be directed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which serves elementary schools in low-income neighborhoods.

Rudd Center research shows that food marketing to children and adolescents is a major public health concern. The food industry spends nearly $2 billion per year in the U.S. on marketing targeted to young people and the overwhelming majority of these ads are for unhealthy products, high in calories, sugar, fat, and/or sodium.

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing marketing practices that promote unhealthy products to our children,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center’s Director of Marketing Initiatives.

The elimination of the tax subsidy could reduce the rates of childhood obesity by five to seven percent, according to research published in the Journal of Law and Economics.