MPHA Written Testimony In Support of House Bills 2007 and 2011

MPHA recently submitted written testimony in support of two bills: H2007, “An Act Relative to Foods Containing Artificial Trans Fat”, and  H2011, “An Act Relative to Expanding Access to Healthy Food Choices in Vending Machines on State Property”.  If reported favorably, both bills could decrease the economic burden of diet-related diseases, demonstrate Massachusetts’ commitment to addressing obesity and health, and support healthy eating.

Dear Chairman Keenan and Sánchez:

On behalf of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, I am writing to express our support for H2007, An Act Relative to Foods Containing Artificial Trans Fat and H2011, An Act Relative to Expanding Access to Healthy Food Choices in Vending Machines on State Property.  We ask that this Committee report these bills favorably.

Fifty-nine percent of adults in Massachusetts are either overweight or obese. Diet-related diseases reduce productivity and increase absenteeism of the workforce, reducing Massachusetts’ economic prosperity. Diet-related diseases also increase health care costs to the state, businesses, and individual citizens. In Massachusetts, $1.8 billion in health care costs are attributable to obesity, including $618 million in Medicaid costs.

H 2011, An Act Relative to Expanding Access to Healthy Food Choices in Vending Machines on State Property, would provide 126,000 full- and part-time state employees and countless others visiting state property with healthier options through vending machines on state property.

Massachusetts citizens want healthier snack options. According to a 2010 study by the Snack Food Association, about 74% of people are trying to eat healthier, with about 65% eating specific foods to lose weight. Market growth of healthier snacks outpaces growth in sales of traditional snacks by nearly four to one.

Massachusetts already has established nutrition standards for the foods served to patients and confined persons by state agencies and foods sold through vending machines, school stores, and a la carte lines in schools.  We know that this works–St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, has experienced a 30% increase in healthy beverage sales since implementing a healthy beverage policy. It is time to ensure state employees and visitors also have access to healthier options as well.

H2007, An Act Relative to Foods Containing Artificial Trans Fat, would ban the use of artificial trans fat in food establishments.  Trans fat, found mostly in foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, like cookies, cakes, or fried foods, is associated with significant health risks, including coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. For example, a mere 2% increase in trans fat intake can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 23%.  There are readily-available and cost-effective replacements for trans fat on the market; in fact, many restaurants and other food retailers have already gone trans fat free.

 As part of a multi-pronged strategy, H 2007 and H2011 could decrease the economic burden of diet-related diseases, demonstrate Massachusetts’ commitment to addressing obesity and health, and support healthy eating.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at 857-263-7072 x111 or mribble@mphaweb.org if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Maddie Ribble

Director of Policy and Communications

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