Vermont takes on obesity - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont takes on obesity

Montpelier, Vermont - February 17, 2010

Obesity is a growing problem in Vermont, and so are medical complications like diabetes. And Vermont's attorney general is starting an initiative that may lead to a new tax on the main culprit, sugar-sweetened beverages.

Vermont officials say obesity is becoming an epidemic in spite of efforts to educate about good nutrition. That's why Attorney General Bill Sorrell has convened an initiative that may lead to punitive taxation to force a decrease in demand for fattening foods like soft drinks -- the way taxes on cigarettes caused a reduction in smoking rates. A group convened by Sorrell will recommend ways to combat the problem.

Kelly Brownell directs the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. "A chronic disease like obesity -- we've never seen this kind of increase in rates," he said.

Brownell told the group that the problem is nationwide and that 58 percent of Vermont adults are overweight or obese. He said the government is taking the lead to turn the trend around. "The federal government is quite involved in the obesity issue," he said. "I was at the White House last week for first lady (Michelle) Obama's announcement about the obesity initiative. This was unprecedented."

Brownell says the largest single cause of obesity is sugar-sweetened drinks. Most schools around Vermont have gotten rid of soft drinks in favor of juices. Others have introduced nutritious foods. But Brownell says education by itself is not working. And Sorrell agrees. Sorrell told WCAX News, "A lot has been going on in Vermont for the last several years. But when you see that we've had a 60 percent increase in adult obesity rates in the last 10 years despite these efforts, you know that we've got to do more. And that's what this initiative is gong to try to do."

The Vermont Grocers Association listened to the presentation. This is not the first time that there have been proposals to tax junk food. Jim Harrison, the Grocers' main lobbyist, said, "I'm not sure that this is the environment where we want to just start adding selective food taxes. You know, they are very regressive. It's sort of hinting that Montpelier knows best, you know. We're going to have the food police out there deciding what items should and shouldn't be taxed."

Soda drinkers were less than thrilled to hear about the idea of a soda tax. They say they understand the premise behind the tax but feel it is unfair.

"It makes sense it's just a bummer for those of us that don't really have that issue but drink a lot of soda," said Patrick Cote-Wurzler, an admitted drinker of "a lot" of soda.

"I'm not very happy with that I would say. I would prefer to just keep paying what I'm paying I drink these a lot so it would be a lot of money per year," added Jackson Boutin while buying a liter of Mountain Dew.

Sorrell says it's not likely that the tax would be pushed this year, although there is legislationthat would target soft drinks for higher taxes. He's looking for action next year -- after the group that met for his initiative returns with a report and recommendations later, this coming fall. 

Andy Potter - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Hinesburg man in custody after alleged shooting

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:56:35 GMT
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
    Police say a 71-year-old man is in custody accused of shooting a female relative in the hand and chest around 8:30 Thursday evening.The incident happened on Richmond Road. The Hinesburg police chief says the man was arrested without incident. He and the victim are long time residents of Hinesburg. Detectives are still investigating what sparked the shooting. But the chief says neither the victim nor the shooter have had any interactions with police before this. The woman was taken to Fletche...More >>
  • Springfield police search for armed robber

    Springfield police search for armed robber

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:00 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:00:49 GMT
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
    Springfield Police need your help to find an armed robber. They say yesterday a white man carrying a semi-automatic handgun held-up the Jenny Wren Café on Main Street. The suspect is described as 19-29 with a slight build and no taller than 5-foot-9.Police say he had a dark buzz cut, acne, and was wearing a red Ecko hooded sweatshirt.If you have any information on the robbery call Springfield Police.More >>
  • Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Arlington man facing an animal cruelty

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:03:45 GMT
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
    An Arlington man is facing an animal cruelty charge after police say they found a dead dog on this property.It happened at 2760 VT Route 313. Troopers were at Rick Thompson's home investigating a burglary involving a wood burning stove when they discovered the dog. Thompson told police the dog died from kennel cough but a vet later determined the dog had been starved to death. The 47-year-old is due in court next month.More >>
  • Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Senator Sanders pushes for better access to primary care

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:06 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:06:48 GMT
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country.More >>
    Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing for better access to primary care for patients in Vermont and across the country. More >>
  • Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Burlington School budget one step closer to re-vote

    Friday, April 25 2014 12:09 AM EDT2014-04-25 04:09:20 GMT
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
    A new Burlington School Budget is one step closer to a re-vote in the Community.The Burlington School board voted in favor of a 67.4 million dollar budget. Dozens of parents and voters turned out Thursday night for public testimony on their thoughts and concerns on the new more expensive budget. A recent audit uncovered a 2.5 million dollar deficit forcing the board to slash about 2.5 million dollars in programming and staff. This new budget is 600-thousand dollars MORE than what was voted do...More >>
  • Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Robber hits the same bank twice?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:01:18 GMT
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
    A security guard and bank manager at the People's United in St. Albans held a would-be robber until police arrived. And investigators think he is the same man who robbed the bank Monday.More >>
  • Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Man shot by Vt. cop faces charges

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:31 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:31:24 GMT
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
    A man shot by an officer inside the Bennington police station faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Man charged in Vt. teacher killing wants confession tossed

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:29:39 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher is asking a judge to exclude from his upcoming trial a detailed confession he gave to police investigators.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.