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Attorney General Releases Report On Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Wendy Morgan, Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

November 17, 2010

Joined at a Statehouse press conference by legislators, public health advocates and other interested parties, Attorney General William Sorrell today called on all Vermonters to pull together and commit to greater efforts to address the skyrocketing rates of obesity and overweight - rapidly overcoming tobacco addiction as the greatest avoidable public health problem facing our state and our nation.

“With current trends, our kids’ generation will be less healthy than our own. Shame on us, if we let this happen,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

Commenced in February at a meeting involving approximately 70 stakeholders, the Attorney General’s Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative represents an attempt to help more Vermonters recognize and aggressively respond to the burgeoning problem. It has recently been predicted that without significant change in nutrition and lifestyle habits, by 2050, at least 42% of Americans will be classified as obese and one third of Americans will be suffering from the related disease of diabetes.

Today, the Attorney General released a report detailing the Initiative’s work. The report includes a number of findings and makes recommendations for policy, legal and programmatic changes to help Vermont and Vermonters lead the nation in attacking the obesity and overweight problem. The recommendations include the imposition of a $.01 per ounce excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). “It is difficult to propose a tax increase at this time, but SSBs are a major contributor to the existence of the problem. The tax will reduce consumption of SSBs and generate revenues to fund programs aimed at a healthier weight and a healthier economy for Vermonters,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee commented as follows: “I applaud this initiative. Working together, we can give greater support to efforts like the Vermont Farm to School program. We can thereby make a real difference, not only in the physical health of Vermonters, but the economic health of agriculture in this state.”

The Attorney General expressed his gratitude to all of the individuals and entities who contributed to the Initiative. He particularly singled out the ongoing anti-obesity efforts of the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Department of Education.

The report in its entirety, along with approximately 150 pages of supporting data and other information, will be available this afternoon on the AG office website at www.atg.state.vt.us.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.