Latest “sugar papers” report strikes a nerve

The latest report about how the sugar industry high-jacked the science of what causes heart disease struck a major nerve.  It received front page coverage* from coast to coast and captured headlines around the world. The New Yorker declared it “A Big Tobacco moment for the sugar industry.”

Experts weighed in, including New York University nutrition expert Marion Nestle, who told the New York Times:

“I think it’s appalling.  You just never see examples that are this blatant.”

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Statement from Jim Krieger, Executive Director of Healthy Food America, on Philadelphia Sugary Drink Tax

The American Beverage Association, representing Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and other sugary drink manufacturers have filed yet another unjustified lawsuit to block sensible public policy to protect people from diabetes and other harms caused by their products. Industry seems set on using questionable legal delaying tactics, despite losing lawsuits in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.

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New report: How the sugar industry high-jacked the science of what causes heart disease

Researchers have unearthed long-buried documents that shed light on how, starting in the 1960s, the sugar industry co-opted nutrition science to shift blame for heart disease away from sugar to an exclusive focus on fat and cholesterol, according to a report published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The team of Stanton Glantz, Cristin Kearns and Laura Schmidt of the University of California, San Francisco discovered and analyzed archival documents that suggest the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), which later evolved into the Sugar Association, covertly sponsored research casting doubt on the health hazards of sugar. According to the UCSF report, SRF paid Harvard scientists $50,000 for a for 1967 literature review on coronary heart disease (CHD), published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that downplayed sugar consumption as a risk factor. 

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Study: Warning labels may steer teens away from sugary drinks

Warning labels on sugary drinks are a promising strategy to steer teenagers away from buying sugary drinks, new research shows. 

The study, published today in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine surveyed American teenagers and found they were less likely to select sugary drinks that bore labels warning that added sugar(s) can contribute to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. 

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Soda tax campaigns in full swing, with developments coming fast

With Labor Day behind us and campaign season in full swing, developments are coming fast and furious in the four cities with soda taxes on the ballot: San Francisco, Oakland, Albany, CA and Boulder.

The San Francisco Chronicle on Sep. 3 endorsed all three Bay Area measures, noting:

“If three cities of differing size and demographics approve a tax, a nationwide push will gather strength. A more positive and healthy trend could reach an irreversible turning point.”

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Soda-tax benefits far outweigh the modest grants Big Soda makes to prevent them

A new report on childhood obesity from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds “significant racial and ethnic inequities, with rates higher among Latino (21.9 percent) and Black (19.5 percent) children than among White (14.7 percent) children.” As communities work to address these health inequities, two very different approaches have emerged. 

One approach focuses on using the revenue from a tax on sugary drinks to support programs that promote community health. The other relies on using grant money from the American Beverage Association (ABA), funded predominantly by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, along with a few other companies.  There are stark differences between what the money from a soda tax can do for a community compared to how little can be eked out of Big Soda’s grants.

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How schools are used to market sugar to kids

Big Food is using back to school as a way to push even more sugar on a generation of children who face an epidemic of diabetes. New guidelines released this week from the American Heart Association recommend children have less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day – a third of the average 18 they currently get.  To help bring sugar back to healthy levels, new rules from the USDA mean the junk food giants will have a little less wiggle room to use schools as ads.  This step comes amid growing calls for governments to take action to protect children from unhealthy food marketing.  

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August update on cities pursuing sugary drink taxes

Advocates have been hard at work this summer building support with voters in Boulder and the Bay Area as campaigns accelerate toward November’s ballot initiatives on sugary drink taxes. The soda giants already are spending big bucks in a desperate attempt to distract voters from the truth about how these taxes benefit communities. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia preparations are proceeding for implementation of the soda tax in January.

The beverage companies ended up spending $10.6 million in their unsuccessful fight against Philadelphia’s tax on sweetened drinks. Although the American Beverage Association has vowed a court challenge, the city is pushing ahead with tax-supported hiring to expand prekindergarten and create community schools, which will become hubs for social services for the surrounding neighborhoods. 

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Study: Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods saw big shift away from sugary drinks after tax

Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods saw a 21 percent drop in consumption of soda and other sugary drinks in the months after the city introduced a tax of one cent per ounce on such beverages, new research shows.

The findings from the first U.S. city to combat sugar-related health risks and raise revenue with a tax on sugary drinks is encouraging news for the four other cities voting on measures this fall, and for Philadelphia, where a new tax is being implemented.

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Unlike USA, UK produces childhood obesity plan – to harsh reviews

Last week the United Kingdom’s government released its long awaited childhood obesity plan, but it was a major disappointment to advocates who’d been hoping for meaningful change.  Using British slang for garbage and a letdown, headlines proclaimed it a “sugar-coated codswallop” and a “massive damp squib”.  

The plan left out major components that had been recommended for inclusion by Public Health England’s review of the evidence-based science. This is why health advocates called it an “insulting response to the UK crisis in obesity type 2 diabetes” and said “the government’s plan is underwhelming and a missed opportunity”.  

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