New guidelines: Kids should eat less than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day

Each day, the typical American youth consumes more than three times the six teaspoons of added sugar recommended as a daily limit under new guidelines from the American Heart Association, released today. 

The guidelines are contained in a “scientific statement” from a panel of experts after a comprehensive review of scientific evidence on added sugars on children's health. In addition to recommending that children 2-18 consume fewer than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, other highlights include: 

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Why the Olympics are key to sugar industry’s denialism

Coca-Cola’s sales and revenue fell during the second quarter of this year, so the soft drink giant is once again using the Olympics to health-wash its sugary soda. But this time around more and more people are unwilling to ignore how soda and sports are jarringly incompatible. Health advocates from around the world have organized campaigns to highlight why it’s time for Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Olympics to go the way of Virginia Slims’ sponsorship of tennis.

This was the message Australian advocates used for media and bus advertisements:

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Dressing kids up as Coke cans to market soda

Coca Cola has been criticized repeatedly for marketing to children and promoting exercise in a bid to deflect from the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.  Those criticisms came to mind yesterday when the Department of Parks and Recreation for Washington, D.C. tweeted this picture of its young summer campers dressed up as cans of soda. 

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Why Big Soda’s big money may no longer be enough

Two decades after soda taxes were first proposed, we may finally have reached the point where Big Soda’s big money is no longer enough to keep them at bay.  

One of the first highly public calls for taxing sugary drinks and investing the revenue to support education and better nutrition came in a 1994 New York Times Op-Ed by Kelly Brownell. A few years later, the Center for Science in the Public Interest took up the cause with a report, "Liquid Candy: How Sugar Drinks Are Harming America’s Health," at a time when "the prospect of a major U.S. city enacting a soda tax was hardly to be contemplated," as CSPI President Mike Jacobson recalled recently

We’re now seeing this once novel idea becoming a reality with the recent successes in Mexico, Berkeley and Philadelphia.  

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How Philly passed a tax on sugary drinks

Today we’ll take a look at what other cities can learn from Philadelphia’s success in passing the first big-city sweetened drinks tax.   

First, a caveat from Howard Wolfson, a senior advisor to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helped support the Philadelphia effort:

“Basically every city is idiosyncratic. Demographics are different. Leadership is different. Economic circumstances are different.” That said, he added, “Sharing the information from one city to the next" is key.

Political path. The path to adopting the tax in Philadelphia was through a budget proposal from the mayor leading to a direct vote by the city council, rather than the ballot measure path used in Berkeley, CA.

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While Coke pushes sugary drinks in US, it bets on Zero Sugar in UK

Shortly after the United Kingdom finance minister announced a plan to introduce a tax on sugary drinks, headlines in Great Britain declared, “Coke bets on Zero Sugar.”

The new soda ads were described as the "biggest marketing investment in a decade.” As the general manager for Coca-Cola Great Britain explained, “We know a growing number of people want to reduce their sugar intake.”  He also knows that number will grow much higher when the UK’s tax on sugary drinks becomes effective in 2018. 

Meanwhile in the United States, Coca-Cola continues to heavily promote the high-sugar versions of its drinks. 

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Philly mayor’s messaging was key to soda tax success

As other cities look to repeat Philadelphia’s success in taxing sugary drinks to support important community priorities, they will no doubt look back to Mayor Jim Kenney’s framing of the issue and his consistent use of messages to support it throughout the campaign. Here, for your handy reference, are some of his best lines:

In his March 3rd budget address, the mayor made the case for the sugary drinks tax as the only way to fund universal pre-K and other benefits for poor and minority communities – the same communities that Big Soda targets with millions of dollars spent on advertising its harmful products:

 “But none of that can happen, not the stimulus, not the reduction in taxes, not pre-k, not community schools, not desperately needed investment in parks, rec centers and libraries, if we don’t pass a sugary drink tax.  There is simply nowhere else to find this revenue…

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Ringing endorsements for Philadelphia’s soda tax

Thursday’s news that Philadelphia City Council approved a tax on sweetened beverages to help pay for universal Pre-K was met with ringing endorsements from around the country.  Joining our executive director Jim Krieger in congratulating Mayor Jim Kenney and the City Council were the following notable voices:

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Philadelphia will almost certainly not be the last city to adopt a sugary drinks tax. In fact, the question now is not whether any city will follow suit, but rather how many – and how quickly?

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HFA Statement on Philadelphia adoption of soda tax

SEATTLE, WA – The Philadelphia City Council just approved the second and largest tax on sweetened drinks in the U.S., by a vote of 13-4. Dr. Jim Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America, issued this statement in response:

“The bold action by Philadelphia’s mayor and city council, in the face of $5 million worth of industry pressure, is a win not just for the health and well-being of Philadelphia kids but for communities across the country. 

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Philadelphia soda tax breaks new ground

It’s not “just Berkeley” anymore. With a City Council vote yesterday, Philadelphia is poised to become the first big city to adopt a tax on sweetened drinks, paving the way for communities across the country to build on the powerful combination of well-targeted investment and people-first policy.

Meeting Wednesday as a “committee of the whole” to consider the city budget, the council endorsed sending the tax measure forward for formal adoption next week. The 1.5-cent per ounce excise tax will provide much-needed revenue for universal pre-kindergarten, rebuilding parks and recreation centers and addressing city budget issues. The tax rate is a half-cent more per ounce than Berkeley’s. 

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