Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education Files Ballot Measure in Multnomah County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2017
Contact: Rose King, (503) 863-1363, rose@brinkcomm.com

Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education Files Ballot Measure in Multnomah County
Proposed initiative promotes health, expands access to pre-school through tax on sugary drinks

(PORTLAND, Ore.)—The Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education—a new campaign backed by the American Heart Association and a growing group of parents, doctors and nurses, elected officials, community leaders, and educators—has filed a tax initiative on sugary beverages in Multnomah County that will promote the health of Oregon children and families, reduce the unhealthy consumption of sugar and strengthen local preschool programs.

Revenue raised will help fund a number of important initiatives in Multnomah that our children need to thrive, including:

  • Early childhood education to help thousands of children without access to preschool grow and learn
  • Literacy initiatives designed to help kids who are struggling and ensure every child learns to read
  • Programs in local schools that promote physical activity, healthy food choices and create healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime

The Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education said a recent study shows that a sugary drink tax in Multnomah County would lead to a 5 percent reduction in diabetes over a one-year period once the policy is enacted. The measure is also estimated to raise more than $28.4 million per year in Multnomah County.

“In Oregon, children come first. Over the years, we’ve made good on our promise to stand up for healthy kids,” said Christina Bodamer, Oregon Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “This initiative and the resources it will generate for our community are an important step forward in our work to support local kids as they grow.”

Recent studies show that across the nation, nearly 60 percent of four-year olds are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool programs, Head Start and programs serving children with disabilities. Even fewer are enrolled in high quality programs. African-American and Latino children, and children from low-income families have the lowest preschool participation rates and are far less likely to be prepared to start kindergarten than their peers.

Participating in early learning is proven to boost children’s educational attainment and earnings later in life. Kids who attend high-quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college and succeed in their careers. Expanding access to quality pre-schools for children of color and low-income kids is critically needed to address Oregon’s achievement gap.

The issue has gained support throughout the nation as six cities (in California: Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco as well as Boulder, Colorado and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) along with Cook County, Illinois and the Navajo Nation have now passed laws and approved measures that apply a tax on sugary drinks.

“This year, local governments across the country proved that raising the price of sugary drinks is a smart way to increase revenue for programs that promote the health and success of kids,” said Dr. Robert Quintos, Board President of the American Heart Association of Oregon & SW Washington. “This measure has the potential to change lives for the better, reducing sugar consumption and increasing access to early learning so our kids can develop healthier hearts and brains. Cutting down on sugar is one of the best things to help improve health for kids and adults alike.”

A recent study showed that childhood diabetes increased by nearly 30 percent between 2002-2009 with nearly a quarter of children aged 12 to 19 in the U.S. have either type 2 diabetes or pre diabetes. In Oregon and nationwide, children of color face greater risk for other lifelong health challenges.

Experts point to excess sugar intake as a key factor driving diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. Consumption among kids is on the rise, with sugary drinks being the largest source of added sugars in the diet of kids. The Coalition for Healthy Kids and Education said that reducing the consumption of sugary drinks is an important step to ensure all our kids grow up strong and healthy.