My KQED colleague Mina Kim produced a great piece examining whether higher soda prices leads to weight loss — and the health benefits that come with it. She profiled a 17-year-old football player from Tracy — Jorge Cota, who at 5’11″ weighed 321 pounds. He had high blood pressure and may have had heart and kidney problems. That was a year ago.
While Cota since has made many diet changes, the first thing he did was cut out his drink of choice, Dr. Pepper. He had been drinking two or three cans or bottles a day.
The Affordable Care Act includes a provision which requires many restaurants and vending machines to display calories. The soda industry has been under fire for its role in increasing obesity rates. Voters in Richmond are considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and last month’s New York City banned sales of sugary drinks larger than 16 …
Voters in Richmond and El Monte will decide on a penny-per-ounce “soda tax” in November. Health advocates are hoping that New York City’s approval to limit the sale of super-sized sugary beverages will help them gain traction for their efforts in California. Source: Latimes California health advocates hope their state will see some movement on …
Earlier this week, KQED’s Mina Kim looked at the ongoing soda tax campaign in Richmond. In November, voters will decide whether to impose a penny an ounce fee on sweetened drinks. Today, William Harless at California Watch drilled down into newly released campaign finance disclosures and learned that — not surprisingly — tax opponents are outspending tax supporters.
What might be somewhat more surprising is that the margin is 10 to 1. Harless reports that the American Beverage Association, based in Washington and representing Coca Cola, PepsiCo et. a. has spent $150,000 since June. (Note that the City Council voted to put the tax on the ballot on May 15.)
On MacDonald Avenue, the city of Richmond’s main drag, Jeff Ritterman is pulling a little red wagon that holds a plastic water cooler jug filled with forty pounds of sugar. Ritterman says that’s the average amount a child in Richmond consumes each year, just from drinking sodas. “The child gets overweight,” he says, “and the arteries of the heart fill up with bad fat. And that’s a real health problem.”
Ritterman is a retired cardiologist who likes to wear his graying hair in a ponytail. He’s also a city councilman and the man behind a November ballot measure that would make Richmond one of the first cities in the nation to impose a penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
If you were watching the Superbowl in 2010 when the Packers beat the Steelers, you may have noticed that Pepsi commercials were absent from the ads that were vying for the attention of millions of viewers. Instead, Pepsi announced Pepsi Refresh, a project to take the $20 million dollars it would have spent on Superbowl advertising and give it to a good cause. They used a vast social media campaign to involve the public in voting for which cause would get the money.
State of Health has followed the soda tax issue closely. Richmond voters will decide in November whether their city will be the first in California to levy a soda tax. The City Council voted to put the measure on the ballot only after hours of heated public debate.
Critics of the tax had many objections, not least of which was concern about an over-reaching government. So when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed limiting portion sizes on sugary drinks, I wasn’t surprised when opponents of the idea labelled it a “nanny state” tactic. Then came the full page ad in the New York Times from the Center for Consumer Freedom. I shrugged and confess that I was a little amused.
But then I read Heather Gehlert’s post from the Berkeley Media Studies Group blog and I rethought my blasé reaction.
The people of Richmond will decide in November whether businesses should have to pay a fee for every ounce of sugar-sweetened drinks they sell. In other words, a soda tax is on the ballot November 6th. If voters approve the measure, Richmond would be the first city in California to impose such a fee.
“The city of Richmond has the opportunity to make history,” Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy told me today, adding that the campaign will be closely watched nationally. “Cities and states will be watching this across the country. … They too want to put a small tax on sugary drinks and use those funds to mitigate the harmful effects that all these sugary drinks are causing.”
Nearly half of people surveyed in a poll released today say that an unhealthy diet combined with lack of physical activity are the greatest health risks facing California children today.
Almost three in four respondents — 73 percent — said prevention efforts, while starting with the family, must extend to the broader community, including health care providers, schools and community organizations, and yes, food and beverage companies and fast food restaurants.
We’ve seen it with tobacco. As taxes went up, use went down. Public health advocates have been salivating over the prospect of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to give them a similar foothold in the obesity epidemic and the myriad health problems excess weight causes. But hard evidence on the health effects of such a tax has been limited.