April 9, 2002

Legislative Activity

Date: April 9, 2002

To: AAF Members

From: Clark Rector Jr. - VP State Government Affairs

Re: New York Legislative Hearing

On April 26, the New York Assembly Committee on Health and the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy will hold a public hearing in New York City on nutrition-related health problems — including childhood obesity - affecting New Yorkers.

Some members of the committees seem to feel that advertising and commercialism may be a key reason for New York children having higher rates of childhood obesity than the national average. The public hearing notice expresses concern that “the average child from 6 to 11 years of age watches 10,000 food ads a year” and “school districts negotiate exclusive contracts with soft drink companies to market their products on campus.”

Specific questions the committees would like to address include:

  • What role do social factors such as culture, education and poverty play in these problems? What about societal influences such as entertainment, advertising, and increased pressure on families? What steps might government take to change negative societal influents?
  • Should private businesses have a responsibility or role in preventing or reducing nutrition-related health problems? If so, how might government influence these businesses?

Three bills that address childhood obesity have been filed in New York this session. Links to the bill text are below. Assembly Bill 7939 Ortiz (D-Kings) will be one of the subjects of the hearing. It would establish a childhood obesity prevention program funded by a portion of existing sales tax revenue from soda, candy, "fast food" meals and other "non-essential foods" that are taxed. The sponsor is also the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy.

Assembly Bill 9551 Levy (D-Suffolk) would require school district authorities in each school district to submit a report regarding the distribution of food and drinks with minimal or no nutritional value within school districts. Assembly Bill 10012 Tocci (D-Westchester) would create the council on physical activity promotion and obesity prevention.

Please call me at 1-800-999-2231 if you would like more information or have an interest in testifying or submitting comments.

AB 7939

AB 9551

AB 10012