Tax on Sugary Beverages Will Help Reduce High Rates of Obesity in Bronx

Bronx Hospitals, Public Health Agencies Among Supporters of Tax

  • NOTE: Commissioner Daines is available for comment on this story.

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Monday, March 15, 2010) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, who practiced medicine in the South Bronx for nearly 20 years, said today that a penny-per-ounce tax on non-diet sodas and other sugary beverages will help reduce the high rate of obesity in the Bronx and reduce Bronx residents' risk for diabetes.

Commenting on a story in Sunday's New York Times that Bronx residents have both the highest rates of obesity and hunger, Dr. Daines noted that a city survey also identified Bronx residents as the highest consumers of sugary beverages, the food group most strongly linked to weight gain.

"Having practiced medicine in the South Bronx for nearly 20 years, I have personally witnessed the growing rates of obesity and obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney and heart disease," said Dr. Daines. "It is heart wrenching to inform a patient he must have a leg amputated or go on dialysis as a result of diabetes. It's time to take decisive action to stop and reverse the obesity epidemic by adopting a tax on sugary beverages."

A large body of research has identified sodas and other sugary beverages as the leading contributor to increased rates of obesity and diabetes. Research also demonstrates that when the price of a product is increased, such as the tax on cigarettes, consumption of that product decreases. The tax on sugary beverages is projected to reduce New Yorkers' consumption of those drinks by approximately 15 percent, as New Yorkers switch to lower-cost, healthier water, low-fat milk and zero- or low-calorie drinks.

"The high calories contained in sugary beverages turn into fat in the body because it is virtually impossible to burn off all those calories," said Dr. Daines. "Teens who drink sugary beverages get an average of 360 calories from them each day – an amount they would have to walk 70 city blocks to burn off."

Sugary beverages are unique in that they don't fill people up or displace other foods people consume, Dr. Daines said. As a result, people still feel hungry after drinking sugary beverages and end up consuming too many calories over the course of the day, adding on extra pounds.

The $1 billion-a-year in revenues produced by the tax will be directed to support health care services and obesity prevention efforts, preventing further cuts to health care and reducing the amount that must be borrowed to address a $9 billion state budget deficit.

Numerous Bronx-based hospitals and public health agencies support the tax on sugary beverages, including Montefiore Medical Center, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, Bronx Breathes, and Local Development Corp of West Bronx.

Supporters of the tax also include the New York Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children's Defense Fund, Citizens Committee for Children, Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, Healthcare Trustees of New York State, Hunger Action Network of NYS, Medical Society of the State of New York, National Action Against Obesity, New York State Academy of Family Physicians, New York State Association of County Health Officials, New York State Nurses Association, New York State Public Health Association, Public Health Association of NYC, and Public Health Solutions.

For a complete list of supporters or to sign up to support the tax, visit the New York Academy of Medicine website at www.nyam.org.