CHICAGO (CBS) — Food activists piled 21 packs of Twinkies next to half an apple at Daley Plaza on Thursday to demonstrate the size of federal subsidies going to ingredients for junk food.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports researchers for the Illinois Public Interest Group said federal subsidies for junk food ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil, amounted to $18.5 billion since 1995.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“That’s enough to buy 2.9 billion Twinkies every year; 21 for every American taxpayer,” said Illinois PIRG field director Haley Witt.

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According to Witt, during the same time period, the feds spent only $637 million on subsidies for apples.

Witt said during the same 17-year time period, childhood obesity has tripled – with 20 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 now considered obese, with a quadrupled rate in reported in bulimia and anorexia tips in statistics.

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Illinois PIRG recommended lawmakers eliminate federal subsidies for junk food ingredients, and provide more subsidies for healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables.