Is 100% juice as bad as soda? Read our journal article to find out

This is a summary of the findings of an HFA-commissioned survey of research into the health effects of 100% fruit juice, appearing in the April 2017 issue of Pediatriacs, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read the article online here.

The question of whether 100% fruit juice causes poor health outcomes in children, such as weight gain, has been a subject of controversy.

On one hand, 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and nutrients that many children lack, is often cheaper than whole fruit, and may help kids with limited access to healthy food meet their daily fruit requirements. On the other, leading nutrition experts have expressed concern that fruit juice contains amounts of sugar equal to or greater than those of sugary drinks like regular soda. 

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As Seattle joins the parade, soda tax news keeps coming

Amid a flurry of other tax-related news, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Feb. 21 that he would champion a sugary drinks levy to raise $16 million a year to reduce the “opportunity gap” between the city’s white students and students of color.

Murray said he would likely take the proposal for a tax of two cents per ounce to the City Council rather than the ballot. A few days later, a Seattle Times columnist mused about whether it was fair to omit diet drinks that are more favored by affluent and white consumers. Our take: The science is clear that sugar is harmful, but the evidence on diet drinks is inconclusive at best (read our review of the evidence here). 

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Pepsi and other distributors are threatening to lay off workers in the face of what they claim is a 40-50 percent decline in sales of sweetened beverages since a 1.5-cent tax took effect Jan. 1. It seems unlikely that an effect of that size – if indeed the industry reports are true – would be sustained, and the jobs losses may never materialize. But industry groups are making serious political hay with the claims in the meantime.

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The facts on sugar and chronic disease: Four new tools to help you communicate the risks

Regular readers of this blog no doubt are familiar with the sour truth: Thanks to the sugar added to processed foods and drinks, American kids gobble up 70 percent more than their recommended “safe” limit each day. Adults consume 40 percent more.

When you alert people to these facts, they may ask, “What’s the harm?” Well, now you have something to hand them, thanks to four new fact sheets developed by our crack research team. 

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Sugar battle heating up for 2017

The year 2016 was a milestone in the movement to curb sugar, and last year’s gains are starting to bear fruit in 2017.  Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax took effect on January 1st and the city used the revenue to launch its pre-K program with more than 2,000 children enrolled at 90 locations.  Big Soda had used the courts to try and this kill effort but a judge dismissed the lawsuit “in its entirety”.  That decision is currently under appeal.

Santa Fe, NM is also looking to fund early education with a tax on sugary drinks, which Mayor Javier Gonzales described as a “game-changer” for early childhood investment.  The 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks could fund these critical programs if the City Council agrees in March to a special election in May and voters approve the measure. Meanwhile, tax bills have been dropped in state legislatures in Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Texas, with others expected. 

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Looking back on a milestone year in the movement to curb sugar

Wow. What a groundbreaking year for the movement to bring sugar back to healthy levels!  At the start of 2016, Berkeley CA was the only community in the United States with a tax on sugary drinks. We ended the year with six more, after every proposed tax went on to adoption, whether by ballot (four) or legislation (two).

Consumers also won a huge victory this year when the Food and Drug Administration finally approved a requirement that processed foods list grams of added sugars on nutrition labels, along with the percentage of the recommended daily maximum they represent.

It was the year when both news and social media caught a sugar buzz, as new awareness came to light about the health harms from sugar and industry efforts to pooh-pooh it. 

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Adopting soda taxes in 21 major cities could save thousands of lives and $1.2 billion in health care costs over 10 years, Harvard model projects

Taxing sugary drinks in America’s cities could save and extend the lives of millions of Americans while averting vast sums in health costs and raising millions of dollars for local communities, according to an analysis of six adopted and 15 theoretical taxes in America’s largest cities.

After ten years, a tax of one cent per ounce in those 21 jurisdictions would reach 23.5 million people with health benefits including declining rates of diabetes, nearly 60,000 fewer cases of obesity, nearly 4,000 fewer premature deaths, and avoided health care costs of over $1.2 billion. The sugary drink levies would raise nearly $1 billion each year for investment in improving communities and promoting health, according to the report, “Raising revenue, cutting costs, saving lives: The benefits of sugary drink taxes in America’s major cities.”

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Drawing lessons from November’s soda tax winning streak

“Soda taxes are on a big winning streak.” Thus declared a New York Times columnist, summing up November’s stunning run of victories in the Bay Area, Boulder and Cook County, IL. Those wins came months after Philadelphia became just the second U.S. city to tax sugary drinks.

There are several reasons why 2016 became the turning point in the health-driven movement to rein sugary drinks. For one, as I told the Associated Press, the industry playbook by now is predictable, so advocates can anticipate and counter their tactics. This year’s newish twist, an all-out effort to deceive people into seeing the measures as “grocery taxes”, fell as flat as week-old cola. Voters not only weren’t fooled, they sent a strong message with their high levels of support in passing the sugary drink taxes.

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Taking the less-sugar message on the road

Whatever else you think about the momentous events of this month, the adoption of five new sugary drink taxes is a capstone to a year that has seen escalating interest in combatting sugar in order to bring down diabetes, heart disease and other impacts from a broken food system.

As a result of that interest, we find ourselves on the road a lot this fall. I recently talked to folks at the Southern Obesity Summit in Houston about how communities in the South and across the nation are developing strategies to reduce consumption of added sugar. Some of the most promising ones include warning labels and taxes on sugary drinks; limits on sugary products in health care, child care, and government settings and in restaurants; marketing and retailing reforms; and communication campaigns.

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BREAKING: Cook County makes soda taxes 5 for 5 this week!

Cook County makes soda taxes 5 for 5 this week! Cook County IL joins Boulder and the Bay Area with a yes vote this week on a sugary drink tax. They continued the week’s winning streak for these measures and momentum for the movement builds as the mayor of Santa Fe announced today he will also be pursuing a two-cent tax on sugary drinks. The Cook County Board vote was 9-8 in favor of a one-cent tax on sweetened beverages.  

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Bay Area and Boulder voters say yes to a soda tax

Voters in Boulder and the Bay Area just said a resounding YES to a tax on sugary drinks. The ballot measures were approved by wide margins yesterday in San Francisco (62% in favor), Oakland (61%), Albany, CA (71%) and Boulder, CO (54%). These four cities join Berkeley, CA, where voters approved the nation’s first tax on sugary drinks in 2014, and Philadelphia, whose mayor and council adopted one in June. 

As we put it in our statement, “Despite the billions spent on marketing and more than $30 million in deceitful campaign ads, voters saw the truth and sent a clear message that their families’ health comes first – thanks to an incredible, neighbor-to-neighbor grassroots campaign led by passionate and effective local advocates and support from Michael Bloomberg and Laura and John Arnold that helped level the playing field.”

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