Arizona Green Tea is popular with teens, but this 23 ounce can has 51 grams — or more than one-third of a cup — of sugar. (Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource)
By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource
As the clock ticks toward a 2014 federal ban on the sale of sports drinks at high schools, California teenagers are showing an increasing fondness for the sugary beverages, with an alarming 23 percent spike in the consumption of sports and energy drinks since 2005, according to a new study.
At the same time, consumption of sugary drinks by young children is declining sharply, according to the study by researchers at the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The study tracked youth consumption of the beverages from 2005 to 2012.
Both trends – the surge in teens guzzling sugary drinks and the drop in consumption for younger children – are tied to regulations governing the sale of the beverages in California schools, said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.
“Taking sodas out of schools contributed to a precipitous drop in consumption among younger kids,” he said, “while older kids have switched to sports drinks and energy drinks, and those products are available in schools.” Continue reading
A soda tax failed at the ballot at two California cities last November. Before that, a statewide soda tax failed two years ago. But advocates and legislators are trying again. A bill that would require a penny-per-ounce tax on any sugary beverage is back in front of legislators and, so far, has passed out of two Senate committees.
The bill by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has two explicit goals: to “discourage excessive consumption” by increasing the price of sugary drinks and to create a Children’s Health Promotion Fund.
“We’re in the midst of a public health crisis fueled by childhood obesity,” CaliforniaHealthline reports Monning said to the Senate Committee on Health last week. “This legislation sets an alternative path toward health and wellness.”
The health committee approved the bill. Next stop is the Senate appropriations committee.
While the soda industry is expected to be back in force for this bill, as it was for the other soda-tax efforts, this time there are new forces in play. Continue reading
(La Piazza Pizzeria/Flickr)
Just over three months since voters in two California cities — Richmond and El Monte — flatly turned down soda taxes, a new Field Poll released Thursday found a majority of California voters say they would support a soda tax if the funds raised were devoted to children’s health.
While only 40 percent of voters said they favor a sugar-sweetened beverage tax, that number jumped to 68 percent if the proceeds will benefit school nutrition and physical activity programs.
“Voters in general don’t trust taxes that aren’t earmarked. They prefer to see taxes linked to something beneficial,” said Dr. Tony Iton, senior vice president of The California Endowment, which sponsored the poll. ”People that are engaged in constructing policy … should take heart in this poll and be able to look to it to construct subsequent measures for trying to engage the public support behind obesity prevention.”
Fully 75 percent of voters said they see a link between regular soda consumption and a person’s risk of being overweight or obese.
The Field Poll reported that support for such an earmarked tax was especially strong among Latinos (79 percent), Asian Americans (73 percent) and African Americans (70 percent).
“I think this poll shows that a campaign either statewide or locally in cities has an excellent chance,” Wendel Brunner, Contra Costa County’s director of public health, told the San Jose Mercury News.
But in the poll voters had the highest support — more than 80 percent — for increasing opportunities for being physically active, such as improved school sports fields and playgrounds — and keeping those facilities open after school and on weekends. Continue reading