Alison Clarkson

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Proposed sugary drink prompts debate

MONTPELIER — Business and health advocates are squaring off over a proposed tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Wednesday morning, the House Ways and Means Committee took testimony on a proposal that would add a 2-cent-an-ounce excise tax on beverages with added sugar. Advocates claim the tax would raise as much as $34 million in state revenue while curbing rising obesity rates, while opponents say the tax will hit poor people the hardest and will drive Vermonters over the boarder into New Hampshire to shop. What was a theoretical discussion in the morning took on more weight in the afternoon, when the House Health Care Committee approved a bill that included the proposed 2-cents-an-ounce tax, and a .3 percent payroll tax, as a way to boost Medicare reimbursements. Dr. Barbara Frankowski,M.D., professor of pediatrics at University of Vermont Medical School, discussed trends in sugary drink consumption, saying consumption in the United States has risen 500 percent during the past 50 years. Continue Reading →

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Health advocates propose tax on sugary drinks

MONTPELIER — Health advocates are calling for a tax on sugary drinks that could raise as much as $34 million in new revenue. Members of Alliance for a Healthier Vermont — a coalition of more than 30 state organizations — gathered Tuesday at the State House to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would impose a tax of 2 cents an ounce on sugary drinks. “Some of you may have seen stories on a report that claims Vermont is the second-healthiest state in the nation. But beyond that happy-sounding headline, there is a sadder reality that deserves to be reported,” said Anthony Iarrapino, campaign director of Alliance for a Healthier Vermont. “The reality is, Vermont is not immune from obesity and the preventative diseases it causes.”

According to the state Department of Health, 60 percent of Vermonters are overweight or obese; for children, that number is 29 percent. Continue Reading →

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