Now that public officials and health authorities have recognized the growing problem of obesity, the question is what to do about it. Today, over several hours, California legislators heard testimony about sugar-sweetened soft drinks as they consider possible legislation. It was, according to one of the country's leading researchers on obesity, a "historic" hearing.
There is a "compelling case for taking public health action" to curb consumption of sweetened soft drinks, said the researcher, Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. He is among those who have proposed a tax on sodas.
The hearing, at Los Angeles City Hall, was called jointly by the state Senate Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes and the Senate Health Committee.
"There is near unanimity that we are facing an obesity epidemic in America," Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), chairman of the select committee, said to open the hearing. Sixteen million Californians are overweight or obese, and those rates have tripled among teenagers in the last three decades, he said. The annual cost - in healthcare, workers' compensation and lost productivity -- runs in the billions of dollars, he added.