Lyrics we’d like to see on Coke cans

With soda consumption reaching record lows, the industry is scrambling to turn sales around.  As more consumers recognize the harms of sugary drinks, Coca Cola is hoping to shift the conversation away from what’s on the inside of its bottles to what’s on the outside.  As Coke’s chief marketing officer put it, “Packaging is our most visible and valuable asset.”

To that end, the soda giant is putting song lyrics on cans and bottles so young people will consume more of its liquid candy.  The current bid to co-opt pop culture is the latest twist on an old gambit: Recall “I’d like to Buy the World a Coke” from 1971. 

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Bernie mouthing corporate propaganda? Say it ain’t so, supporters say

Did Bernie Sanders know he was parroting Big Soda’s deceptive framing when he bashed the Philadelphia mayor’s plan to fund universal preschool with a tax on sugary drinks, calling it “regressive” and a “grocery tax”?

The move rattled some of his supporters, who wondered how he could have missed the fact that soda is to groceries as flies are to soup: You might find them in the same place, but that doesn’t mean they’re both to be consumed for nourishment.

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Philly soda tax would prevent thousands of cases of obesity, extend lives, avert millions in health costs over 10 years, Harvard model projects

Philadelphia’s proposed tax on sugary drinks would reduce consumption of health-harming beverages enough to prevent thousands of cases of obesity, extend lives and avert millions in healthcare costs over 10 years, researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health have concluded.

With funding from Healthy Food America, researchers for Harvard’s CHOICES project localized their national, peer reviewed model to examine the potential health impact of Philadelphia’s proposed sugary drink tax. They project that the tax of 3 cents per ounce would persuade regular consumers of sugary drinks to lower their intake. As a result, the model projects that 36,000 fewer people would be obese at the end of 2025 than without the tax. When the tax reaches its full effect over the next decade, as many as 2,280 cases of diabetes a year could be prevented. The prevented cases of obesity will result in lower estimated 10-year health care costs, with projected savings averaging $200 million.*  

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Going mainstream: Soda taxes hit the presidential campaign trail

Last year, some dismissed the idea of taxing the beverages with added sugar just like we tax tobacco as “fringe”. But in 2016 the idea has hit the mainstream in a big way, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The latest milestone came Wednesday, when Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Philadelphia, said she supported the mayor’s plan to fund universal preschool with a tax on sugary drinks – especially given the goals for the revenue.  “I'm very supportive of the mayor's proposal to tax soda to get universal pre-school for kids," Clinton said. "I mean, we need universal pre-school. And if that's a way to do it, that's how we should do it."

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Breaking: Boulder will pursue a sugary drinks tax

Public health advocates in Boulder today filed a ballot measure for 2016 that will raise revenue from a soda tax to promote access to healthy foods and exercise for families and children in the city.

Today’s action starts a city review of the proposed ballot language that can take up to 15 days, campaign organizers said. Once the language is certified, a coalition now coming together as Healthy Boulder Kids will have until June 28 to collect and submit the signatures required to qualify for the November ballot.

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Berkeley disproves Big Soda’s claims

Berkeley took on Big Soda in 2014 and won.  Now more communities are following the California city’s lead: Taxes on sugary drinks already have been proposed this year in Oakland, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Predictably, the soda industry is responding with arguments familiar from the Berkeley battle – but the lived experience there continues to undermine them.

For example, the anti-tax campaign ran ads predicting the tax revenue would not go to support prevention efforts because, “There’s no oversight as to where that money will be going.” In practice, however, an expert panel created by the tax measure has succeeded in directing the money toward community-based initiatives to address the consumption of sugary drinks and their impacts on health. 

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Record Low Soda Consumption

The hard work of health advocates is paying off and showing real progress in changing norms. What’s the evidence? Coca Cola's quarterly sales just fell four percent amid growing health concerns about sugary drinks. Industry tracker Beverage Digest reported soda consumption hit a 30-year low in 2015.  Total volume declined 1.2% in 2015, an acceleration from the 0.9% drop in 2014. The multiyear soda slump had Americans consuming 1.5 billion fewer cases than in 2004.

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Stop the Unrelenting March of Diabetes

The World Health Organization reported this month that diabetes cases have quadrupled in just over three decades. So what can be done to stop the unrelenting march of this disease?  

Writing in The Lancet about their findings, the WHO researchers noted part of the answer lies in prevention “through enhancing healthy behaviours and diets at the population level, and early detection and management of high-risk individuals.”

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Let’s Knock Sugar Consumption Back to Healthy Levels

We at Healthy Food America are excited to be up and running! Our new organization is helping to energize a national movement for healthier food, starting with a major campaign to reduce consumption of added sugars in food and beverage products.

We act on scientific evidence to drive change in food policy and industry practice, giving people greater control over their health and reducing diet-related illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  We have a number of resources to support you:

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On World Health Day, a “Roadmap” toward lower diabetes rates

In celebration of World Health Day, we at Healthy Food America are releasing our own contribution toward fighting the global diabetes epidemic: a new guide to adopting taxes on the sugary drinks that are a prime contributor.

The number of adults living with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980 to more than 420 million – 8.5 per cent of adults, according to the WHO’s first report on diabetes worldwide, released this week. Fully 90 percent of those cases are Type 2 and the growing prevalence of processed foods almost certainly plays a part. Daily sugary drink consumption alone increases diabetes risk by 26 percent. To reverse course, we have to change industry practices and curtail the added sugars that permeate our beverages and foods. The WHO endorsed taxes on sugary drinks as a good start, and we are here to help along in the U.S.

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