Last Friday, the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Health held a hearing in New York City to explore food policy as it relates to obesity in the state. Among the items on the agenda for discussion was a beverage tax on soft drinks and sports drinks.
The Senators welcomed many representatives of government and health organizations, each with varying opinions on the topics of the day. One thing became immediately clear - obesity is a very serious and complex issue and something needs to be done to address it.
We at Sip & Savor agree. But, where we disagree with some of the witnesses is that we know that the obesity issue will not be resolved by taxing anything, let alone beverages. We should consider solutions that incorporate education, physical activity and other programs into our communities.
Our view was shared by many members of the New York community, including the Food Industry Alliance of New York, UFCW Local 1500 (the grocery workers union), the National Supermarket Association, the Bodega Association of the United States, Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants and the Business Council of New York State. ABA's Jim McGreevy provided testimony at the hearing, and so did American Council on Science and Health President Elizabeth Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
There is work to be done in New York to counter obesity. And we all - government and community leaders, organizations, schools and individuals - need to work together if we want to shrink the waistlines of New Yorkers. Let's just make sure that we are seeking comprehensive approaches that will have a meaningful and lasting impact.