Wai`anae Coast Doctors Testify at Capitol in Support of SB1085 on 2/6/13 – Update 2/12/13

Dr. Vija Sehgal of the Wai`anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (left) and a representative of the HI Primary Care Association testified in support of SB1085.

Dr. Vija Sehgal of the Wai`anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (left) and a representative of the HI Primary Care Association testified in support of SB1085.

Dr. Cristeta Ancog of Kaiser Nanaikeola Clinic testified in support of SB1085, which adds a fee to sugar-sweetened beverages in order to help fund anti-obesity efforts.

Dr. Cristeta Ancog of Kaiser Nanaikeola Clinic testified in support of SB1085, which adds a fee to sugar-sweetened beverages in order to help fund anti-obesity efforts.

Pediatricians from the Wai`anae Coast testified in strong supprt of SB 1085, which imposes a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages and establishes the Obesity Prevention Special Fund to support obesity prevention programs. The Senate Health and Judiciary and Labor Committees deferred the measure for decision-making until 2/11/13.  Here is a link to SB1085:

UPDATE 2/12/13: Text of Dr. Cristeta Ancog’s SB 1085 testimony:
FROM: Cristeta Ancog, M.D., FAAP
SUBJECT: Senate Bill 1085, Relating to Obesity Prevention

I am writing as an individual in support of Senate Bill 1085 Relating to Obesity Prevention, which establishes a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages and designates the fees to be used for obesity prevention programs.

As a pediatrician who has been working on the Waianae Coast for the past 24 years, I have witnessed the increase in overweight and obese children. Most of these overweight children will become overweight adults, which increases all the complications that are associated with obesity, especially type 2 diabetes and early cardiac disease. We are seeing these complications at younger and younger ages. As a pediatrician, I am taking care of children with diseases that used to be considered only adult disease. This obesity epidemic threatens our children so much that this may be the first generation of children that does not outlive their parents.

In my practice over 41% of the pediatric patients are overweight. 50% of the teenagers are obese. Across the state, the highest obesity rates are in the low income and Native Hawaiian populations but all areas have seen an increase in childhood obesity. Obesity impacts every facet of our lives-not only increased health care costs, but even national security since many young adults are too overweight to serve in our armed forces.

The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is highly associated with obesity. These beverages are the largest single source of excess calories in the US diet. Children and adolescents today derive 10-15% of their total calories from sugary beverages. These are empty calories with no nutritional benefit.

We need to make it cheaper to eat healthier by creating a price difference between sugar-sweetened beverages and lower calorie, healthier drinks. Research has predicted that consumption of sugar –sweetened beverages would decline 8-10% in response to a 10% increase in price. Studies have shown that a decrease in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages reduces weight and weight gain.

It is our responsibility to protect the public’s health. Major government interventions have been successful in the past, such as smoking restrictions, tobacco taxes, and air bags in autos. A recent random phone survey of Hawaii adults shows that 65% of respondents would support a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages to fund programs to fight childhood obesity.

Addressing the multifaceted problem of obesity requires policy and environmental changes that reach the entire population. A fee on sugar-sweetened beverages is not the only solution but since these beverages contribute greatly to the problem, efforts to reduce consumption needs to be a focal point in a comprehensive effort to combat childhood obesity. The revenue generated from these fees will fund programs designed to address other causes of childhood obesity and enhance childhood health.

We need to act NOW to improve the health of the children and adults in our state. Let’s make a difference and approve this bill.

Thank you for allowing me to testify.

Cristeta Ancog MD

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