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City officials said lower-income residents are most likely to drink one or more sugar-sweetened drink a day; type 2 diabetes is also twice as common among poor New Yorkers compared to the wealthiest.

The USDA had no immediate comment Thursday on the proposal.

The department recently launched a pilot program to encourage food stamp recipients to make more healthful choices in their food shopping. Under the program, involving 7,500 randomly selected households in Massachusetts, participants get 30 cents added to their benefit balances for every dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables — which reduces the cost of fresh produce by almost one-third.