"We have to act now to prevent a ticking time bomb that will overwhelm our health-care system and resources in the coming years," said the chief sponsor of the measure, Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.
"Just as people pay attention to smoking, we need to pay attention to obesity."
Ortiz, who last year brought about the ban on driving while holding a cell phone, said a 1 percent "junk-food tax" may be just what the doctor ordered.
His aides said such a levy would raise "tens of millions of dollars" a year - to be earmarked for educational programs to convince the public to restrict their high-fat food intake.
Ortiz's proposal, still in the drafting stage, faces an uncertain future in the Legislature.
"The real tragedy is that most nutrition-related health problems are preventable, and we owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to become healthy, productive adults," said Ortiz, citing federal figures showing that nearly 300,000 deaths a year are linked to obesity.
Ortiz said he also may recommend new taxes on video games and television commercials, because New Yorkers are getting fat spending too much time in front of the TV screen.
"A new excuse for a new tax is the last thing we need," responded state Business Council spokesman Matt Maguire.
"New York's most pressing fat problem is the fat in the state budget," Maguire added.
A representative of the state Dietetic Association testified at a hearing conducted by Ortiz that 30 percent of all family food now comes from often-fatty restaurant take-out.
Ortiz cited statistics showing that New York has a higher childhood-obesity rate than the national average.
He said figures show that 22 percent of black, 20 percent of Latino, and 19 percent of white sixth-grade children in New York City are overweight.
Utterly despicable. "Let's pretend revenue raising is compassion!"