The Boston Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the nation, said that Patrick’s proposal would not only bring in additional state revenue, but also address the growing childhood obesity rate.
According to the foundation, childhood obesity in Massachusetts has risen by approximately 8 percent in the past eight years. In addition, they state that 30 percent of the children in the state classify as either overweight or obese, with additional disparities in the subcategories of race, ethnicity, location and income.
They said the over-consumption of sugary beverages, colas and snacks has been proven to have a direct link to the growing obesity. The foundation also states that the money raised from imposing a sales tax on soda and candy could go to promoting increased physical activity for children as a way to address obesity.
“Massachusetts is the world’s leader in quality of health care, and the national leader in access,” Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul Grogan said. “It is time we extend that leadership to actual health and wellness. Ending the tax exemption on these products, and using the funds to promote physical activity for our children, is an important part of achieving that goal.”
Massachusetts is one of only 16 states that does not impose a tax of any kind soda and candy. More than 30 states impose some sort of sales tax on colas and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
Patrick’s proposal, and other budget items, will be deliberated by the state legislature. A similar proposal was filed by Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) on behalf of The Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition, which represents health care, business and civic leaders. Khan’s proposal would make physical activity required to be part of a school day and take the tax on sodas to create physical activity programs.