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Fox 11 Central Coast

SANTA BARBARA – University of California students with the consumer group CALPIRG released a study that shows billions of taxpayer dollars have gone to subsidize junk food ingredients.

In the study called "Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food," the students said too much money is going to junk food.

From 1995 to 2010, nearly $17 billion of government subsidies went to four main junk food ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oil.

"These additives are empty calories, adding pure sweetness and fat to many of the things that us and our children consume," said Manny Rin, CALPIRG.

The study was released at a news conference in front of the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara.

"Looking at [a child's] blood tests, the actually look like they might be a 50 year old man when we look at their cholesterol levels and their liver function," said Sansum Diabetes Education and Outreach Director Jenifer Gaffaney.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of children are overweight or obese.

For families, tough choices are made when they go to the grocery store. Gaffaney said it's always cheaper to buy unhealthy food.

"And those families at highest risk are those that are challenged with whether they're going to pay rent at the end of the month or buy organic apples for their families," she said.

"The fact that so many tax dollars are going towards junk food signals the call for the ending of these subsidies and the cutting of this wasteful spending," said Rin.

To view the "Apples to Twinkies" study, click here:

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