California Medical Association endorses soda tax ballot measures

October 12, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

The California Medical Association (CMA) today announced endorsements for three Bay Area ballot propositions aimed at reducing sugar intake to prevent diabetes and obesity:

  • Measure V in San Francisco (Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages) proposes a 1-cent per ounce tax that is estimated to generate $14.4 million/year.
  • Measure HH in Oakland (Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax) proposes a 1-cent per ounce tax that is estimated to generate $6-8 million/year.
  • Measure 01 in Albany (Sugar-Sweetened Beverage General Tax) proposes a 1-cent per ounce tax that is estimated to generate at least $223,000/year. 


The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day, and a single 20-ounce bottle of soda contains approximately 16 teaspoon

of sugar. Up to two sodas a day increase the risk of diabetes by 26 percent. One in three children born after 2000 – including half of Latino and African-American children – are expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Sugary drinks are also the biggest contributor (43 percent) of added calories in the American diet, and drinking just one soda a day increases a child’s likelihood of being overweight by 55 percent and an adult’s by 27 percent. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently urged countries to impose a tax on sugary drinks to battle the growing obesity epidemic.

“Doctors across California want to break the cycle of diabetes and obesity in our communities,” said CMA President Steve Larson, M.D., MPH. “The science and firsthand experiences are clear: diabetes and obesity limit our patients’ full potential and quality of life. These diseases also cost California billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and health care costs, putting further strain on our public health system.”
Taxing sweetened beverages 1-cent per ounce would reduce obesity rates by five percent and cut medical costs by $17 billion within a decade, according to a report by the American Medical Association. The city of Berkeley passed the nation’s first soda tax in 2014, and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has decreased by 21 percent since the implementation of the tax.
CMA has long supported policies aimed at curbing sugar intake from beverages, including legislation requiring warning labels and restricting sales on elementary, middle and high school campuses. In 2015, CMA joined the Center for Public Health Advocacy, Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations (NEPO) and other health organizations in an amicus brief supporting the City and County of San Francisco in defending its sugar-sweetened beverage ordinances. The CMA Foundation also provides education, advocacy and resources to help reduce the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in children and their families.


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The California Medical Association represents the state's physicians with more than 42,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit cmadocs.org, and follow CMA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.



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