The University of California Research Consortium on Beverages and Health, a group of faculty from every UC campus coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute, has released two new resources to support reducing consumption of sugary drinks. The first is a factsheet, University Beverage Pouring Rights Contracts – And Alternatives, which aims to educate university stakeholders about beverage “pouring rights” contracts that allow a beverage company—usually PepsiCo or Coca-Cola—nearly exclusive rights to market and sell its products throughout the university's campus and during events. The factsheet outlines the variety of stipulations present in these contracts and suggests alternative strategies for healthier, more up-to-date beverage procurement. The second resource is a living document, an Interactive Table of Policy Strategies to Reduce Consumption of Sugary Drinks (US – Proposed and Enacted). The table portrays the landscape of federal and tribal, state, city, workplace and educational institution policies in use in the US to reduce consumption of sugary drinks: excise taxes on sugary drink distributors, bans or restrictions on sugary drink sales or service, and other policies such as restrictions on marketing, requirements for labeling, or regulation of vending machine contents. It includes links to the policy language to provide sample language for entities that are considering developing new policy. Consortium members Ken Hecht from NPI, Kristine Madsen from UC Berkeley and Jennifer Falbe from UC Davis were interviewed about these topics in a July 10, 2023 story in The Daily Californian, “A unique responsibility': Campaigns work to limit soda consumption, stop UC pouring rights contracts.”
- Author: Danielle L. Lee
Berkeley, California made history by passing the nation's first sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax paid by beverage distributors in 2014, which garnered unanimous support from City Council and 76% of the vote in a public referendum. NPI-affiliated researchers Jennifer Falbe (lead author) and Kristine Madsen published a new article titled “Implementation of the First Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in Berkeley, CA 2015-2019” in the American Journal of Public Health. The article identifies policy and contextual characteristics that made the tax a success, shares recommendations for other cities, and highlights two critical findings. First, this tax on the beverage industry generated over $9 million that was invested into the community through public health and health equity programs. These programs aim to prevent the diseases caused by SSBs. Examples include the public school's Gardening and Cooking Program, a Head Start obesity prevention program, and Healthy Black Families' programs to reduce racial health inequities. The City's SSB tax advisory committee, which represents community and expert voices, was instrumental in making these investments, which are featured in short videos by The Praxis Project. Second, interviews with retailers indicated that beverage industry claims that SSB taxes amount to “grocery taxes” that raise food prices were false.
The article was published online ahead of print on July 16, 2020. Authors include Jennifer Falbe, UC Davis Department of Human Ecology; Anna H. Grummon, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Nadia Rojas, UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra and Lynn D. Silver, Public Health Institute; and Kristine Madsen, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Berkeley Food Institute. Read the complete article online.
Retailer attitudes pertaining to excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are shared in a new study by Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researchers Kristine Madsen and Jennifer Falbe. In response to evidence that SSBs increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, three California cities—Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco—have enacted excise taxes on distributors of SSBs. The beverage industry claims that SSB taxes are harmful to retailers and local economies, and that they lead to taxation of other food products, a so-called “grocery tax.” Madsen's team investigated these claims to see how they hold up..
Researchers conducted interviews in 2018 and 2019 regarding the effect of SSB excise taxes on small and large grocers, corner and liquor stores, and various chain stores, as well as the attitudes of the retailers who sell such products. A random sample of 103 retailers in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco were selected for interviews from neighborhoods ranging from lowest to highest median household incomes. Study findings show, contrary to beverage industry messaging, that 70% of retailers in the three cities experienced minimal or no impact on their businesses as a result of tax. While a minority of retailers expressed reservations about the SSB tax, two-thirds held a favorable view of it. More than half of the retailers in the study said the tax should be enacted by more cities, or even rolled out statewide. Furthermore, no evidence emerged to support the beverage industry's claim that prices of non-SSB foods have been raised as a result of the tax, invalidating the “grocery tax” messaging. The study was published online on May 28, 2020 in Preventive Medicine Reports by lead authors Julian Ponce with the University of California (UC), Berkeley School of Public Health and Haoxuan Yuan with the UC San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP). The study was conducted in collaboration with Dean Schillinger and Ryane Daniels of the CVP; Hina Mahmood and Matthew Lee of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health; NPI affiliated researcher Jennifer Falbe of the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology; and senior author Kristine Madsen of the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Read the full article in Preventative Medicine Reports here.
Oakland and San Francisco, Calif. became the first large, western U.S. cities to pass excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in November 2016 with the goal of reducing SSB consumption and raising revenues for public health education. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researchers examined how much the excise taxes increased retail prices for SSBs in Oakland and San Francisco. In their latest study, they found that retail prices of SSBs significantly increased by approximately the amount of the excise taxes–1 cent per fluid ounce–within four to 10 months of implementation. The prices of beverages that were not taxed–water, milk, and 100% juice–were unaffected. The study was published online on May 21, 2020 in the American Journal of Public Health by lead author Jennifer Falbe with the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Human Ecology. The study was conducted in collaboration with Scott Kaplan of the UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Alberto Ortega Hinijosa of IMPAQ International, Kristine Madsen of the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public health, and Matthew Lee and Nadia Rojas of UC Berkeley School of Public Health.