Berkeley Residents Buying Fewer Sugary Drinks and More Water Thanks to Soda Tax

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Largest-To-Date Evaluation Shows 9.6% Drop In Sugar Sweetened Beverage Purchases And Increase In Healthier Beverage Purchases. Overall Bererage Sales Rose; Grocery Bill Did Not.

April 18, 2017

Oakland, CA — A new study published today in PLOS Medicine by the Public Health Institute and the University of North Carolina showed that Berkeley’s sugar sweetened beverage tax is working as intended.

Top findings included:

  • Purchases of sugary drinks declined: Sales (in ounces per transaction) of taxed SSBs fell by 9.6% in Berkeley, while they rose by 6% in other Bay Area stores without a tax (compared to predicted sales based on pre-tax trends). Sales of diet soft drinks and diet energy drinks also fell significantly, by 9.2%.
  • Purchases of healthy beverages increased: Sales of untaxed healthier beverages, already far greater at baseline, rose significantly, by 3.5%, and overall beverage sales went up in Berkeley. Sales of water rose by 15.6% (more in ounces than the decline in SSBs); untaxed fruit, vegetable or tea drink sales increased by 4.37%; and sales of plain milk rose by 0.63% (all statistically significant).
  • No negative impact on store revenue or consumer grocery bills: Although overall store revenues per transaction in the studied chains dropped slightly across the Bay Area during the study period, store revenues in Berkeley fell by 18¢ less (-$0.36) compared to non-Berkeley stores (-$0.54). This same indicator—store revenue per transaction—is also what consumers spent on average for each checkout or “grocery bill” at the participating stores, indicating that their average grocery checkout bill did not increase at these stores—counter to claims by the soda industry that the policy would be a “grocery tax.”
  • Investments in health increased: In spite of low consumption of SSBs, the City’s revenue from the first year of the SSB tax was $1,416,973—or $12 per capita. Funds raised went to nutrition and obesity prevention activities in schools, childcare and other community settings.
  • The tax costs were passed through to taxed products in many, but not all, stores: In the 15.5 million transaction study, about two-thirds of the penny-per-ounce levy (0.67¢/oz) was passed through to consumers by pricing increases on the taxed drinks. For soda and energy drinks it was fully passed through (1.09¢/oz). In the 26 store study, it was fully passed on in large (1.07¢/oz) and small chain supermarkets and chain gas stations (1.31¢/oz), partially in pharmacies (0.45¢/oz), but not in smaller independent corner stores and independent gas stations. Prices on non-taxed beverages did not increase more in Berkeley than in comparison stores.

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2 Out Of Every 5 Americans Expected To Develop Type 2 Diabetes During Their Lifetime

 

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The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology:

Close to half (40%) of the adult population of the USA is expected to develop type 2 diabetes at some point during their lifetime, suggests a major study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. The future looks even worse for some ethnic minority groups, with one in two (> 50%) Hispanic men and women and non-Hispanic black women predicted to develop the disease.

A team of US researchers combined data from nationally representative US population interviews and death certificates for about 600 000 adults to estimate trends in the lifetime risk of diabetes and years of life lost to diabetes in the USA between 1985 and 2011.

Over the 26 years of study, the lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes for the average American 20-year-old rose from 20% for men and 27% for women in 1985–1989, to 40% for men and 39% for women in 2000–2011. The largest increases were in Hispanic men and women, and non-Hispanic black women, for whom lifetime risk now exceeds 50%.

Dr Edward Gregg, study leader and Chief of the Epidemiology and Statistics Branch, Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Soaring rates of diabetes since the late 1980s and longer overall life expectancy in the general population have been the main drivers of the striking increase in the lifetime risk of diabetes over the last 26 years. At the same time, a large reduction in death rates in the US population with diabetes has reduced the average number of years lost to the disease. However, the overwhelming increase in diabetes prevalence has resulted in an almost 50% increase in the cumulative number of years of life lost to diabetes for the population as a whole: years spent living with diabetes have increased by 156% in men and 70% in women.”*

thumb_blood_sugar_blues_coverjpg1He concludes, “As the number of diabetes cases continue to increase and patients live longer there will be a growing demand for health services and extensive costs. More effective lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to reduce the number of new cases in the USA and other developed nations.”*

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Lorraine Lipscombe from Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada says, “The trends reported by Gregg and colleagues are probably similar across the developed world, where large increases in diabetes prevalence in the past two decades have been reported…Primary  prevention  strategies  are urgently  needed. Excellent evidence has shown that diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes. However, provision of these interventions on an individual basis might not be sustainable. Only a population-based approach to prevention can address a problem of this magnitude. Prevention strategies should include optimisation of urban planning, food-marketing policies, and work and school environments that enable individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices. With an increased  focus on interventions aimed at children and their families, there might still be time to change the fate of our future generations by lowering their risk of type 2 diabetes.”

*Quotes direct from author and cannot be found in text of Article.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(14)70161-5/abstract

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