There has been a surge of people on food stamps, and the USDA has been working hard to ensure the program just keeps on growing. But the efforts of growing number of nanny-state mayors actually may do more to dissuade people from using them in the first place.

On Tuesday, 18 mayors sent Congress a letter stating:

More than one third of American adults are now obese, costing approximately $147 billion per year in associated medical expenses. As a result of obesity, this generation of American children is the first to face the possibility of a shorter life expectancy than their parents. It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP’s [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps] subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity.

Along with New York Mayor Bloomberg, the mayors of 17 other cities signed on: Baltimore, Boston, Louisville, Ky., Madison, Wis., Minneapolis, Newark, N.J., Oakland, Calif., Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., Salt Lake City, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Seattle. As the AP’s Jennifer Peltz reports:

The benefits can't go to buy alcohol, cigarettes, hot food and some other items. Proposals to stop people from using the benefit to buy soda, candy and other items seen as unhealthy have been floated for decades; opponents have said such restrictions would be paternalistic and might discourage needy people from getting the subsidies.

So it appears the best slim down plan of all is shedding government paternalism by cutting out government dependency.