Dr. Don Hardt has been forcefully pushing for the passage of a bill that would tax sugar-sweetened beverages, powders, and syrups. He again renewed his call for the Legislature to finally pass House Bill 19-99 authored by Rep. Felicidad To. Ogumoro (R-Saipan).
Hardt, in yesterday’s Rotary Club of Saipan meeting, said a number of studies have shown diabetes and obesity are the adverse effects of consuming too much sugar-sweetened beverages with the said diseases also not helping the economy.
“A healthy population would contribute to a healthy economy. Job loss is the result of diabetes and obesity,” said Hardt, a University of Berkley graduate and the first certified diabetes program educator.
He said that in 2014 alone, there are more than 170 patients in the CNMI who are undergoing dialysis costing the U.S. federal government, through Medicare, $88,000.
He added that Hardt Eye Clinic is also the first among the Pacific Islands to be a certified diabetes education clinic. “My whole professional life, I’ve been passionate about diabetes. I see a lot of patients who have massive bleeding in their eyes, some have diabetes and some are in dialysis.”
Hardt even cited a study made by Morgan Stanley, a multinational financial services corporation, where it showed sugar intake could stunt the growth of the global economy. Diabetes and obesity is sometimes referred to as “diabesity” as both are synonymous to each other.
“Thirty-five percent of adults in the U.S. [mainland] are obese. The CNMI is worse since it is almost 50 percent higher than of the 50 other states,” said Hardt, who added that obesity results to diabetes and the latter would affect your eyes through glaucoma.
He said that water remains the best drink out there and that people should start changing their eating habits and diet.
“Change your diet, exercise, and drink lots of water. You will loose weight and that happened to me when I followed this type of lifestyle.”
Hardt was one of the speakers during a public comment period in last month’s House session that debated the sugar tax bill of Ogumoro.