LiveWell Colorado Supports Proposed Boulder Soda Tax

World Health Organization Urges Action that Hits Close to Home

By Wendy Peters Moschetti, Director of Food Systems at LiveWell Colorado

soda-cropped-260x200Colorado’s great quality of life attracts healthy, educated adults yet we have struggled to provide that same healthy environment for the children born and raised here. In fact, one in four Colorado kids suffers from being overweight or obese. Obesity is a serious health risk because it can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and other negative health conditions. Chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, are more prevalent among poor or less educated individuals than those with higher incomes or more education.[i]

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged global action to curtail the obesity epidemic by taxing sugary drinks. According to the WHO, “estimates suggest that, over 10 years, a tax on sugary drinks of one cent per ounce in the United States of America would result in more than $17 billion in healthcare cost savings.” Taxing sugary drinks can lower consumption and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Additionally, sugary drink taxes can raise money for proven and effective health services and programs.

We cannot ignore the cost of obesity and its disproportionate and devastating impacts on low-income communities and communities of color. Colorado spent $1.637 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity in 2009. By 2030, Colorado’s adult obesity rate could grow from 22 percent to 45 percent. Mexico, Berkeley, CA, and the Navajo nation have pioneered taxing sugary drinks and demonstrated the public health value of these measures.

LiveWell Colorado supports Boulder’s 2H ballot measure, a two-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugary drink distributors, because it is a model for combatting obesity. Additionally, emerging research indicates that a balance of incentives and restrictions is critical to help support a healthy environment. This measure helps prompt a needed restriction to help curb the growth and influence of large soda companies.

You can put an end to childhood obesity by helping remove barriers to healthy eating and physical activity for all Coloradans. Efforts that focus on hunger, access to healthy food, and Boulder’s sugary beverage tax are part of the same issue – building a food system that can help make us all healthier. If we can confront the role of sugar in causing obesity while also increasing access to healthy food and beverages, then everyone benefits.

Supporting 2H will help Boulder lead the way in limiting the influence of soda companies with large marketing budgets, ultimately improving accessibility of healthy choices for everyone. We stand for building a healthy environment, especially for kids, and we invite you to stand with us. Please vote yes on 2H.

[i] Income, Education and Obesity: A Closer Look at Inequities in Colorado’s Obesity Problem.” The Colorado Health Foundation, 2008.