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Commentary from Governor David Patterson, New York on CNN.com:
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new public health epidemic: childhood obesity.
What smoking was to my parents’ generation, obesity is to my children’s generation. Nearly one out of every four New Yorkers under the age of 18 is obese. In many high-poverty areas, the rate is closer to one out of three.
That is why, in the state budget I presented last Tuesday, I proposed a tax on sugared beverages like soda. Research has demonstrated that soft-drink consumption is one of the main drivers of childhood obesity.
These days I’m no longer surprised when something like an “obesity tax” is foisted upon the masses without so much as a whimper – afterall it is your fault if you’re fat, right? You should pay more, right?
Several commentators in the media applauded the move by Governor Patterson – Nicolas Kristof opined the hope that other states will follow suit because “if other states follow, [it] could help make us healthier.”
He even ties it up neatly with a bow, repeating Patterson’s parallel to smoking and cigarettes, “These days, sugary drinks are to American health roughly what tobacco was a generation ago. A tax would shift some consumers, especially kids, to diet drinks or water.”
No one likes taxes, but by golly, we must do this for the children! We must save ourselves from ourselves with this tax – save the children, save the world, reduce consumption of sugared beverages and all will be well.
What’s maddening isn’t so much the propsed tax on sugared beverages, it is what government does if they can get away with it….what’s maddening is that no one seems to notice that we are already paying taxes that enable the flood of cheap soda, fruit drinks and sugared beverages into our markets. It’s paid by our taxes in the Farm Bill, with corn being king amongst the crops subsidized by our tax dollars.
This new tax represents a double taxation to New Yorkers – taxed first from their income to subsidize corn in the Farm Bill; and now to add insult to injury, when they dare to consume products made from the corn products their tax dollars helped make cheap at the consumer level – namely high-fructose corn syrup….beverages produced that are artificially low in price at the consumer level and often cheaper than buying a bottle of water!
If the government truly wants to tackle the obesity epidemic, perhaps it’s time to revisit the Farm Bill and how it is directly creating a market flooded with cheap corn calories at the consumer level for things like high-fructose corn syrup which is used in thousands of food products in our markets!
They say the road to hell is paved by good intentions.
The Toronto Star recently noted the political battlelines drawn around the debate to ban bottled water in Toronto, “Environmentalists claim bottled water commercializes a public resource, undermines faith in Canadian water systems, and sends plastic bottles to the landfills. The bottled water industry counters that environmental groups rig recycling rate numbers and vilify a product that helps combat obesity.”
Last week the vote was cast and the Toronto city council voted to immediately ban the sale and/or distribution of bottled water in City Hall and the city’s civic centres where contracts permit, and ban the sale and/or distribution of bottled water in other city-owned facilities such as arenas and theatres by the end of 2011.
While it’s now illegal to not only sell bottled water, but also illegal to distribute bottled water in city-owned facilities in Toronto, it’s still perfectly legal and acceptable to sell and distribute sweetened waters (translation – soda and fruit drinks).
Afterall, isn’t that really what soda and fruit drinks are – simply sweetened water?
Let me see if I understand this.
Bottled water = bad-illegal
Bottled soda & fruit drinks = good-legal
This vote after Statistics Canada released data that found Canadians consumed more than 95 litres of soft drinks in 2007!
How much more soda and fruit drinks do you think folks will drink now that bottled water is banned?
- Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
- Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
- Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
- Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
- Longevity: How long will the idea’s impact last?
Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and three time winner of the National Association of Science Writers’ Science in Society award, is scheduled to present his lecture, The Quality of Calories: Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Diet, Exercise and Obesity, on November 13, 2008 in Columbia, Missouri.
The event is sponsored by the Boone County Medical Society and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri. It is free and open to the public. Registration is strongly recommended as seating is limited.
The presenation will take place at the Monsanto Auditorium (University of Missouri) at 2:30pm and will be followed by a reception in the McQuinn Atrium. More details are on the flyer below. To register online, click here.
Last week, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, an article revealed some
shocking school breakfast and lunch options: “Pop-Tarts and doughnuts
for breakfast for 2-year-olds. Rolls, chicken nuggets and French fries for
school lunches. Brownies given the same nutritional value as a slice of
This struck a chord with me since I recently posted here about the dismal lunches served in the Columbia Public Schools in Missouri. One particularly disturbing lunch option – Smucker’s PBJ Uncrustable, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Pretzels, Rice Krispie Treat, 1% cholocate milk, baby carrots and a fruit – is offered daily to students throughout the district!With 789-calories, the school’s website highlights that the lunch contains 23g of protein (92-calories) and just 24% fat (189-calories; 21g); no mention that this means the lunch also contains 508-calories from carbohydrate (127g), or the equivalent of 32-teaspoons of sugar in a child’s metabolism…not to mention if a parent packed such a lunch for their child each day, they’d be branded as irresponsible and lending a hand to the epidemic of childhood obesity!
With school back in session across many states, it seems we have a pattern that shows school lunches are not as healthful as we’re led to believe!
Senatobia, Mississippi: Chicken Nuggets or BBQ Rib Sandwich, Mashed Potatoes w/Gravy, Cheesy Broccoli, Hot Cinnamon Apples, Fruit Juice, Yeast Roll, Gelatin. (assorted milk)
Randolph, Massachusetts: Nachos with cheese, beef, onion, tomato and sour cream and fruit. (assorted milk)
Roff, Oklahoma: Corndog, tator tots, black-eyed peas, chocolate pudding and milk.
Whittier, Massachusetts: Choice of Domino’s of french bread pizza, small salad, pretzel, assorted fruit. (assorted milk)
Folsom, New Jersey: Nachos with cheese or Smucker’s PB&J, vegetable, fruit and milk.
Ada, Oklahoma: Frito chili pie with cheese, green beans, garden salad, rosy applesauce, salad bar and milk.
Benton, Arkansas: Pizza, corn, salad, half an orange, milk. Nachos, pizza, chicken nuggets, corndogs, frito chili pie….what is frito chili pie anyway? And why are we not disturbed by these school lunches offered to our kids each day?
With so much already on my plate, you’d think I was nuts for taking on one more thing!
But I have – I’m now posting columns Examiner.com as the national Low-Carb Health Examiner!
My first post there is a reprint, from 2005: Food for Thought
I’m still working out the kinks, but will still be writing and posting here too…!