In this edition, you'll find an op-ed co-authored by Dr. Benjamin
Danielson, Children's Alliance board vice president, making the case for improving children's health by taxing candy and soda. You'll also read a feature about Marcelas Owens, a child health care advocate and participant in the Children's Alliance's 2010 Have a Heart for Kid's Day, who is on his way to Washington, D.C., to honor his late mother's memory by urging lawmakers to provide everyone what his mother lacked: access to health care.
The health of Washington's children is in danger. Here in
Washington, a quarter of our kids in middle and high school are
overweight or obese and that figure is growing. A major factor: 20
percent of their daily calorie consumption comes from sugar-sweetened
beverages. Scientific studies have consistently shown that children who
drink two or more sodas a day are more likely to be overweight than
those who have access to healthier alternatives.
Also: Watch a Children's Alliance audio slideshow of a Seattle teen making the case for taxing candy and soda.
A new study could help public health advocates make their case
that taxing soda and other sugary beverages leads to healthier eating
and drinking habits. The Children's Alliance and other members of the
Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition are urging lawmakers to pass a
penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and extend the sales tax to candy
to help raise revenue to support vital services for children and
Marcelas Owens may be the only health-care lobbyist around
here who needs an excused absence from school. The fifth-grader at
Seattle's Orca K-8 school has been campaigning for health-care changes
since, when he was 7, his mother died after she fell ill and lost her
job and insurance coverage.
Despite appearances, funding for the Working Connections child
care program may not suffer a $30 million cut after all, according to a
state representative who has withdrawn a budget amendment that would
have restored funding for the program.
This is a pivotal week for state lawmakers. This is the week
legislators must adopt a balanced budget for the remaining 15 months of
the two-year budget cycle, filling a revenue shortfall of $2.8 billion
in the process. Lawmakers already cut about $3.5 billion in spending
last year to help close a $9 billion budget shortfall. They did not
raise taxes. The question this week is whether Democrats, who enjoy
sizeable majorities in the House and Senate, can muster enough votes to
both cut programs and raise taxes and get out of town by Thursday’s
scheduled adjournment. We believe the final budget solution must
include both program cuts and tax increases. The all-cuts budget, which
Republicans seem to favor without offering up a budget proposal of
their own, is inhumane and unacceptable.
About one-third of children who enter Head Start, the nation’s
largest federally funded education program for preschool children, are
overweight or obese. Because young children are increasingly spending
time in child care and early childhood education programs, focusing on
these settings is critical to a comprehensive approach to reducing
obesity. But a study -- co-authored by researchers at Temple University
and Mathematica Policy Research -- finds that Head Start program
directors lack the money, time and knowledge to adequately address
Today, one of every three U.S. children is overweight — but
it's much easier to prevent obesity than to treat it. That's why
pediatric obesity experts now say intervention should begin early —
very early. The risk of becoming overweight or obese, it increasingly
seems, begins before a child is born, establishes roots in infancy and
may be entrenched by the time a tot starts kindergarten.
For all the good first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move"
initiative will do motivating the private sector, there is hard work
ahead as Congress takes up reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act
this year. The administration has proposed an additional $1 billion per
year for child nutrition in its fiscal 2011 budget. ... But the truth
is that $1 billion is a far cry from what's needed to get good food
into schools. In fact, $1 billion for child nutrition per year
translates to mere pennies for every school lunch. That's not even what
it costs me to put a fresh apple on each lunch tray.