As Seattle joins the parade, soda tax news keeps coming


The last couple of weeks have seen a burst of soda tax developments: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposed taxing sugary drinks at 2 cents an ounce to fund programs aimed at closing the “opportunity gap” for poor and minority students. Santa Fe’s tax proposal continues to move forward, though the mayor and council members have competing plans. And in Philadelphia the beverage industry is working to create a storm of negative publicity around the city’s newly implemented tax. ... To help you make the case on sugar and health we are sharing four new fact sheets below. ... And our latest Research Watch brings you up to speed on new insights related to diabetes deaths, the likely impact of sugary drink taxes and the debate over using federal SNAP benefits to purchase junk food.

Seattle’s mayor proposes sugary drink tax, as industry continues political fight in Philadelphia

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. City officials counter, though, that the tax-funded pre-K program has created more than 250 jobs, as revenue came in stronger than expected for the first month. Read more.

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. Read more.

Research Watch: Entering our 2nd year!

Our Research Watch, a bimonthly compendium of the most current and compelling research on sugar, health and policy, is back for a second year! In this issue:

A report released by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service at the end of 2016 got a lot of media attention because it showed that SNAP households spend some of their benefit on sugary drinks. In this issue, we review both the USDA report and recent research that suggests SNAP beneficiaries would be supportive of a policy to limit sugary drinks while offering incentives for healthy purchases via SNAP.

We also look at a study that found that deaths attributable to diabetes could be three to four times higher than the officially listed cause of death – as high as nearly 12 percent. Read more.

Highlights From Our Media Updates

In case you missed them, here are some recent stories we found noteworthy:

Soda Sales Fall Further in Mexico’s Second Year of Taxing Them (NY Times)

UK to fund school programs and fight child obesity with sugary drinks tax, government announces (Telegraph UK)

Sugar’s ‘sweet spot’ link to Alzheimer’s disease discovered (

'Secondhand sugars' can pass through breast milk (Science Daily)

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Please take a minute to give us some feedback to make this as useful as possible. If you have tips on research we should cover, please send them to Petra Vallila-Buchman at [email protected]. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyFA.

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Yours Truly,

David Goldberg
Healthy Food America



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