Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought permission from the federal government to bar New York City's 1.7 million food stamp recipients from using them to buy sugary drinks such as sodas.
Bloomberg, a staunch advocate of anti-obesity measures, sent the request to the United States Department of Agriculture, The New York Times reported.
The mayor asked for a two-year ban to examine whether it would have positive health benefits and justify a permanent ban.
"In spite of the great gains we've made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we're losing ground - obesity and diabetes," Bloomberg said in a statement. "This initiative will give New York families more money to spend on foods and drinks that provide real nourishment."
In the past, Bloomberg has taken measures such as advertisements and stricter rules on food sold in schools in a bid to fight obesity. He supported plans for the state to levy a tax on sugary drinks, but the move was not successful.