[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/HEALTH/12/18/paterson.obesity/art.david.paterson.gi.jpg caption="New York Gov. David Paterson says taxing soft drinks could help combat obesity."]
Editor's note: David Paterson, a Democrat, is governor of New York.
Special to CNN
Like many New Yorkers, I remember a time when nearly everyone smoked. In 1950, Collier's reported that more than three-quarters of adult men smoked. This epidemic had a devastating and long-lasting impact on public health.
Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a new public health epidemic: childhood obesity.
What smoking was to my parents' generation, obesity is to my children's generation. Nearly one out of every four New Yorkers under the age of 18 is obese. In many high-poverty areas, the rate is closer to one out of three.
That is why, in the state budget I presented last Tuesday, I proposed a tax on sugared beverages like soda. Research has demonstrated that soft-drink consumption is one of the main drivers of childhood obesity.
For example, a study by Harvard researchers found that each additional 12-ounce soft drink consumed per day increases the risk of a child becoming obese by 60 percent. For adults, the association is similar.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with