Over Half of Philadelphians Want a Beverage Tax: Poll

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Over Half of Philadelphians Want a Beverage Tax: Poll

Where you live apparently has a great deal to do with whether you support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Despite earlier research showing a majority of Americans opposed to such a tax, a new poll commissioned by the Campaign for Healthy Kids has found that 55 percent of likely Philadelphia voters are in favor of taxation equal to two cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages if funding went to support programs to fight childhood obesity.

Proponents of the tax argue that beverages such as soda and ready-to-drink sweet teas are the single largest contributor of calorie intake in Americans’ diets and a major source of empty calories for kids.

“Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Philadelphia and across the country,” noted Andrew Hysell, project director for the Washington-based Campaign for Healthy Kids, which works to advance policies to prevent and reduce childhood obesity in states where the problem is most severe. “In fact, today’s children could be the first generation in U.S. history to live sicker and die younger than their parents’ generation. The majority of Philadelphia voters support the sugar-sweetened beverage tax as part of a public health policy to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.”

Although the problem is nationwide, the City of Brotherly Love appears to be particularly hard hit. Over 57 percent of Philadelphia children between the ages 6 and 11 are overweight or obese. In some areas, like Upper North Philadelphia, almost 70 percent of kids are overweight or obese.

Additional findings of the poll include:

—Almost nine in 10 Philadelphia voters (87 percent) expressed concern regarding obesity among children in their city

—More than six in 10 voters (64 percent) strongly back boosting the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the city and rewarding low-income Philadelphians who buy fresh fruits and vegetables with food stamps, particularly at farmers’ markets

—Among other suggested ways to reduce the Philadelphia’s projected $700 million shortfall — such as a flat fee for garbage collection, an increase in property taxes, or a sales tax — a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was the most popular among poll participants

The Campaign for Healthy Kids By providing strategic consultation, advocacy support and communications expertise to coalitions working on the ground in the nation's hardest-hit regions, the Campaign seeks to accomplish real and lasting change for the children affected by this epidemic.