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.

Today, Healthy Food America is distributing a new guide, A Roadmap for Successful Sugary Drink Tax Campaigns, responding to numerous requests from communities around the country for information on how they can join Berkeley, CA, Mexico and now the UK in raising revenue while improving health.

The science is clear: Sugary drinks are bad for us, contributing about 47 percent of the added sugars that are contributing to burgeoning rates of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart, liver, and dental diseases. The typical 20-ounce soda, for example, has about 16 teaspoons of sugar – 33 percent more than the daily maximum recommended by recent federal guidelines. Taxing sugary drinks – just as we do tobacco – to raise revenue and improve health is an approach that is gaining momentum across the country and around the world.

Mexico’s sugary drink tax is reducing consumption and delivering revenue, helping to inspire the U.K. recently to pursue a similar tax. Berkeley became the first in the U.S. in 2014, passing a one-cent per ounce levy, and now communities from Philadelphia to Oakland are pursuing their own taxes.

In the guidebook you will learn about how sugary drink taxes work, how to lay the groundwork with education and policy campaigns, find a political path to passage, estimate revenue and form a winning coalition. You’ll also get tips about messaging and the opposition arguments you’re likely to encounter. (For more in-depth discussion of how to design your tax to suit your community’s needs see our recently released guide, Best Practices in Designing Local Taxes on Sugary Drinks.) The Roadmap is a synthesis of lessons learned and advice gleaned from interviews with experienced hands, including coalition leaders, political consultants, campaign managers, legal analysts, public health officials, city executives, communications experts, and grassroots advocates.

As always, if you’d like more information on sugary drink taxes and other ways to combat excess sugar consumption, please contact us.



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