As the Washington Legislature debates enacting a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, three guests columnists in health care professions make their case for supporting a tax that would both save taxpayers money, reduce childhood obesity, and provide basic health care, nutrition and health-related educational programs.
Benjamin Danielson, M.D., vice president of the Children's Alliance board, David Fleming, M.D., director and health officer of Public
Health-Seattle & King County, and Lenna L. Liu, M.D., pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital write:
Sadly, the rate of childhood obesity in our state continues to grow. But at the same time, vital services for our children — basic health care, nutrition and health-related educational programs — are being cut. These programs save taxpayers money by providing nutrition education, preventing disease and reducing the need for more expensive and time-consuming treatment.
But we can change this. Right now, two promising strategies are being considered in our state capital. One, the elimination of a sales-tax exemption on candy, would provide an additional $44 million per year in new revenue. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could reduce the current budget shortfall by generating a significant amount of money (about $315 million per year.)