Ortiz Outraged at Governor’s Decision on Soft Drink Tax

Legislation is Important Step Toward Fighting Childhood Obesity
March 11, 2009
New York, NY – Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn-51 AD), is outraged that Governor Paterson has stepped away from the Ortiz proposal to tax sweet beverages. “This is a regressive move that puts our children at risk,” said Assemblyman Ortiz. “The governor’s decision is irresponsible and sends the message that our children’s health isn’t important,” continued Ortiz.

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University issued a report highlighting the benefits of increased taxes on these drinks. The report advised that increased sweet beverage taxes would send a public health message supporting nutritious programs and obesity and diabetes prevention.

The costs associated with obesity and diabetes, are immense and signal a disturbing trend in New York. The NYC Health Department recently revealed that half of school children are overweight or obese and the Cancer Society estimates that direct medical costs from obesity in New York are close to $5 billion annually. It is estimated that medical costs of diabetes are almost $9 million in the state and indirect costs due to lost productivity total more than $4 billion according to Yale University. For children, it is predicted that one in three born in 2000 will have diabetes in their lifetime. For minority children the prediction is more serious. Among African American children the odds are two in five, and for Hispanic children the odds climb to a shocking one in two, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I have been a strong proponent in the fight against childhood obesity for years. Obesity among our children has tripled since 1980 and continues to be on the rise. Chronic diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes, are wreaking havoc with the lives of our children, as well as putting a strain on our health care system. We must act now - we must do everything in our power to combat childhood obesity,” said Assemblyman Ortiz. “We must discourage the consumption of unhealthy food and beverages and encourage our families to choose the path of healthy and nutritional eating. The governor’s decision puts the burden on the backs of our children and we will all pay the price for years.”