Quantcast

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>>

  • Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Allergy sufferers brave ragweed season

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:08:26 GMT
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
    If you're sneezing, your nose is running and you're eyes are itchy once again this year -- you're not alone. Fall pollen counts are peaking in our region and proving tough for allergy sufferers looking to enjoy the outdoors.Despite a spate of heat and humidity, the signs of fall are undeniable. Cooler temperatures and color are on the way. And even though many think of spring as "allergy season" due to tree pollens, this time of year can be particularly tough for allergy sufferers, too -- bec...
  • 2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    2 charged with skid-steer joyride on I-89

    Monday, September 1 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-09-01 23:01:16 GMT
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
    The theft of some construction vehicles caused chaos on the Interstate this weekend.
  • Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Holiday drivers find lower prices at the pump

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:59 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:59:21 GMT
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
    Drivers this holiday weekend found lower gas prices at the pump.
  • Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Sanders addresses Labor Day rally

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:52 GMT
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
    Community members gathered in Burlington's Battery Park Monday to celebrate Labor Day -- and hear from Senator Bernie Sanders.Union leaders addressed the importance of employees supporting one another. They also thanked the community for supporting Vermont's unions. Senator Sanders says the holiday is for working people to not only celebrate their gains, but to also address issues facing the working class."There's a lot of work in front of us if we're going to make sure that our kids and our ...
  • Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Bike racers wrap up weekend events

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:51:16 GMT
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
    The Green Mountain Stage Race took to the streets of Burlington Monday.
  • Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Authorities seize animals from Santa's Land

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:32:03 GMT
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
    The Windham County Sheriffs Department says it seized multiple animals from the theme park this weekend.
  • Body discovered in Massena

    Body discovered in Massena

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:02 PM EDT2014-09-01 20:02:43 GMT
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
    New York State Police are investigating an unidentified body found in Massena.
  • Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Community remembers O'Hagan's presence at Sheffield Field Days

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:54:21 GMT

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

    Sheffield Field Days is a Labor Day tradition -- attended by hundreds. But each year the event reminds the community who is missing.

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.