The week that the number of Americans on food stamps reached an all-time high, officials in New York have proposed new limits on the way food stamps can be used.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed preventing the 1.7 million New Yorkers on food stamps to use them to purchase sugary soft drinks. New York Governor David Patterson has endorsed the idea, which must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program.

Bloomberg says Americans now consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories each day than they did 30 years ago. Nearly half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks, which can contain as many as 16 packets of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle and a staggering 26 packets in a 32-ounce serving.

Even moderate consumption of these products can have health consequences. In a study of 91,000 women, those who drank one or more sugary drink each day were 83% more likely to develop diabetes over a four-year period than those who drank less than one a day. In New York City alone, diabetes causes 20,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 amputations and 4,700 deaths every year.

New York City Health Department statistics released last month show nearly 40 percent of public school children, through eighth grade, are overweight or obese. Bloomberg's crackdown on obesity follows his campaign against smoking and trans-fat. The city's health department has produced a YouTube video to drive its message home.

"Roughly three out of five New Yorkers are overweight or obese, and sugary beverages are fueling the epidemic," said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. "While this video is lighthearted, its message is serious. The sugar consumed in these drinks can lead to obesity and other health consequences, including diabetes and heart disease. We hope that this campaign will encourage people to consider healthier alternatives to sugary drinks, such as water, seltzer or low-fat milk. Even small changes can have real health benefits."