Skip to code content (skip section selection)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization, based on a summary of the available evidence linking intake of added sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to adverse health outcomes including obesity and diabetes, have recommended that Americans consume no more than 10% of their daily calories in the form of added sugar. Yet, standard single serving sizes of SSBs provide all (in a 20-ounce serving of many SSBs) or nearly all (in a 12-ounce serving) of the recommended maximum daily added sugar amount for most adults, and generally exceed the recommended maximum daily added sugar amount for children.
Numerous organizations and agencies, includ ing the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control, recommend limiting intake of added sugar and SSBs to improve health. Sugary beverages, though they can contain hundreds of calories in a serving, do not signal “fullness” to the brain and thus facilitate over-consumption.
Studies show that sugary beverages flood the liver with high amounts of sugar in a short amount of time, and that this “sugar rush” over time leads to fat deposits and metabolic disturbances that cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health problems. Diseases connected to sugary beverages disproportionately impact minorities and low-income communities. For example, diabetes hospitalizations are more than triple in low-income communities as compared with higher income areas. African American death rates from DM2 are five times higher than San Francisco’s overall rate. DM2 is the fifth leading cause of death in SF (which is an underestimate, since heart disease, the leading killer, is often a result of DM2); DM2 reduces the lifespan of San Franciscans by eight to ten years.
As recently as 2010, nearly a third of children and adolescents in San Francisco were obese or overweight; and in San Francisco, 46.4% of adults are obese or overweight, including 61.7% of Hispanics and 51.3% of African Americans. Nationally, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years; in 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Every additional sugary beverage consumed daily can increase a child’s risk for obesity by 60%; and one or two sugary beverages per day increases the risk of Type II diabetes by 26%.
Sugary beverages, including sweetened alcoholic drinks, represent nearly 50% of added sugar in the American diet, and, on average, 11% of daily calories consumed by children in the U.S.
Seven percent of San Franciscans are diagnosed with diabetes, and it is estimated that the City and County of San Francisco pays over $87 million for direct and indirect diabetes care costs.
This Article 8 is intended to discourage the distribution and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in San Francisco by taxing their distribution. Mexico, where an average of 163 liters of sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed per person each year, enacted an excise tax on sugary drinks, with the result that the purchase of taxed sugar sweetened beverages declined by 12% generally and by 17% among low-income Mexicans. The Mexico data indicate that, when people cut back on SSBs, to a significant extent they choose lower-caloric or non-caloric alternatives. This body of research demonstrates that taxation can provide a powerful incentive for individuals to reduce their consumption of SSBs, which in turn will reduce obesity and DM2.
The City of Berkeley became the first city in the United States to follow in Mexico’s footsteps, by passing a one-cent-per-ounce general tax on distributors of SSBs within the city limits. It is estimated that the City of Berkeley, which began implementing the tax in March 2015, will collect at least $1.2 million from the tax annually.
(Added by Proposition V, 11/8/2016)