Anti-obesity grants aimed at nation’s poor

The Obama administration is preparing to unveil regulations for a grant program designed to attack the obesity epidemic among low-income Americans.

The White House has completed its review of draft rules for the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program, according to records kept by the Office of Management and Budget.

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The program would authorize grants to states that follow specific dietary guidelines seen as promoting “healthy food choices,” according to a notice describing the new regulations.

Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – also known as food stamps – would be served by the grants, along with children that partake in the National School Lunch Program and individuals in low-income communities.

“The rule continues commitment to serving low-income populations while focusing on the issue of obesity, a priority of this Administration,” according to the notice.

It lists the rule as economically significant, meaning it would cost more than $100 million, but does not estimate the overall expense of the program to taxpayers. The program would rely entirely on federal dollars, with no state-matching requirement.

It was not clear Tuesday when the final rule would be issued.

The program is the latest in a series of efforts to expand access to healthy foods.

Last week, for instance, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) filed an amendment to the Fiscal 2014 budget proposal seeking to prohibit using food stamps to buy junk food. And on Monday, a group of House Democrats introduced legislation to expand the school lunch program to weekends and holidays.