This generation of kids is the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Currently, 29% of Vermont's children are overweight or obese.
Dr. Niels Giddins is a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and a board member for the American Heart Association who wants to change that. He has joined us in the fight for a two cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks in an effort to reduce obesity in Vermont.
You'll hear his voice on Vermont airwaves and see him in local papers. And, he spoke to legislators at the American Heart Association's legislative reception this month.
Here's a portion of his statement from that event:
Simply put, most Vermont adults are overweight or obese, and our youth are catching up fast. The adverse effects on their health are undeniable. Not only are the lengths and quality of their lives compromised, our health system is compromised due to the increasing amounts of expensive care needed to treat the various problems that result — such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
We counsel our patients that the biggest factor in weight control is the energy or calories taken IN. What we eat and drink. Obviously the energy or calories that we expend can help balance things out, but the heart of the problem if you will is that when you take in more than is expended your weight goes up. And if the calories are just plain carbs, with no other nutritional value, the imbalance is just that much worse.
It is with this simple equation that this tax can make the most impact. Anything to reduce the empty calories consumed by Vermonters will make a difference. Healthy alternatives abound and become more appealing if relatively cheaper. This includes milk that supports our own dairy industry, and juices that supply needed fruit and vegetable-derived nutrients. Let's not forget just plain water - one of the natural resources that many in this state have worked diligently to protect. Our municipalities provide some of highest quality drinking water anywhere– freely available right out of the tap.
Make no mistake, this is not a ban on sugary drinks. They're still going to be available, but in return for their negative impact on our health, this tax can provide much needed funds for our stressed healthcare system.
Finally, a word to business owners that perhaps understandably have had concerns about the impact of this tax on their livelihood. I'd like to think that certain pharmacies that have stopped selling tobacco products have done so NOT to lose money. The right decision helps everyone. Healthy sells as well.
Let’s do this.
Learn more about the impacts of sugary drinks on obesity and our efforts to pass a tax on sugary drinks at our coalition site: www.healthiervt.org.