SOURCE: California Center for Public Health Advocacy

California Center for Public Health Advocacy

February 18, 2010 13:10 ET

Sen. Florez Introduces Soda Tax to Fund Childhood Obesity Programs

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - February 18, 2010) -  In the face of a $41 billion statewide obesity epidemic, California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) today introduced legislation to tax sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages to fund childhood obesity programs.

"I don't want obesity to be the legacy that we leave to our children," Sen. Florez said at a press conference in his capitol office. "With the revenues raised from this bill, we can support schools and build communities where children are active, eating healthier foods and putting the threat of obesity and related diseases like diabetes behind them."

The Florez bill would levy a penny for every teaspoon of added sugar in commercial beverages sold. Initial projections estimate that the excise tax on beverage distributors would raise $1.5 billion a year, with funds going directly to California cities and schools to pay for childhood obesity prevention programs throughout the state.

A growing body of research highlighting the central role of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages in driving the obesity epidemic prompted the senator's bill. Last year, a study released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that adults in California who drank a soda or more a day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. That, combined with Californians' overwhelming consumption levels -- 50 gallons of soda a year for the average adult equaling 39 pounds of sugar -- underscore the role of sodas in driving the state's obesity crisis.

"If we're going to make any headway in addressing the obesity epidemic, we have to start with the biggest culprit, and that's clearly soda," said California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) Executive Director Dr. Harold Goldstein. "Soda is the one specific product for which we have overwhelming evidence of its direct link to obesity."

Ultimately, Goldstein says, the soda tax will begin fixing the harm caused by these products. He points out that as a direct result of the obesity epidemic, it is expected that one-third of children born in 2000 will have diabetes sometime in their lives, including 50 percent for Latino and African American children.

"When Michele Obama introduced her children's health initiative last week she explained that our children didn't do this to themselves. They didn't create an environment where high sugar sodas are the cheapest, easiest drink to find. We did that to them. So we have a responsibility to fix it. And this bill is the right way to start," Goldstein said.

CCPHA is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization leading efforts in California to understand and address the state's growing obesity crisis. For more information on this legislation, visit the CCPHA site at:

Contact Information

    Dr. Harold Goldstein
    CA Center for Public Health Advocacy
    (530) 297-6000 or (530) 400-9106
    Mike Miller
    Brown-Miller Communications
    (800) 710-9333