Five years after implementing San Francisco’s sugary beverage tax, city leaders and health experts are feeling upbeat.
“We all know that taxes are generally unpopular, right?” Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, said in a presentation Tuesday. “But the important thing is that something like this happened. And it’s improving public health.”
Taxes generated approximately $72 The total amount has reached $1 million since the 2017-18 fiscal year, said Cristina Goyette, deputy director of community services at the Ministry of Public Health, who helped campaign for the measure in 2016. The majority of donations go directly to improving nutrition, one of the most effective preventive measures. Diabetes and food rationing.
By funding education initiatives, taxes changed behavior. About 81 percent of participants in the tax-funded program drink more water compared to sugary drinks like juices, sports drinks, and soda, and about 83 percent drink more water, Goette said. of fruits and vegetables. Regularly.
“These are the longer-term changes that we’re always looking for,” Goyette said.
The tax will also help fund essential food distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, with partnerships with organizations providing approximately $2.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables to low-income households in the past fiscal year. Goyette added.
Additionally, an unpublished model of national sugar taxes in six cities found that the potential risk of gestational diabetes, diabetes in pregnant women, was reduced by 2.2 percent compared to cities without sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. found. Hispanic women appear to benefit the most, reducing their risk of developing gestational diabetes by about 60 percent.
“It’s too good to be true,” said Dr. Dean Schillinger, director of UCSF’s Health Communication Research Program.
The city’s assessment was announced during Tuesday’s Grand Rounds, a weekly medical discussion led by the University of California, San Francisco. The university hosted a panel to discuss the consequences of San Francisco’s sugary beverage distribution tax, a 1-cent excise tax per ounce of beverages sweetened with sugar, syrup, or powder.
The purpose of this tax is twofold. One is to stop San Franciscans from sipping extremely sugary drinks, and the other is to put money into improving public health in areas targeted by the soda industry and unhealthy eating habits. . The fund aims to improve nutrition, diet and dental health in areas with declining health conditions, particularly those where type 2 diabetes is prevalent.
And the need is greater than ever, especially when it comes to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, which disproportionately affects Black, Latino, and low-income people. In San Francisco, the Mission, Bayview, and the southeastern part of the city are most at risk.
Type 2 diabetes “has reached epidemic levels in areas targeted by the soda industry, and this is an important step toward reversing it,” Colfax said.
According to the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, approximately $85 million in hospitalization costs in 2016 were directly related to the disease.
Through modeling and research, medical experts have suggested that reducing carbonated beverage intake could significantly lower a pregnant woman’s risk of diabetes, potentially leading to savings in health care costs and longer life expectancy. speakers said Tuesday.
The sugary beverage tax was placed on the ballot as Proposition V in 2016 by Supervisors Maria Cohen, Mark Farrell, Eric Marr, and Scott Wiener. It passed easily with 62.5% of the votes cast and was enacted on January 1, 2018.
The paper, published in the American Medical Association Health Forum, created a model for cities such as San Francisco and Oakland that impose sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. The overall effects of the model suggest that sugar-sweetened beverage prices increased by approximately 33% and consumption decreased by approximately 33% in cities with sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. “There is pretty solid evidence using sales data that sugar-sweetened beverage purchases are continuing to decline,” Schillinger said.
The tax’s proponents and experts also focused on the concept of “water equity,” or increasing access to clean water, which contributes to improved dental and systemic health outcomes. Roberto Vargas, UCSF’s associate director of community engagement, added that the tax led to an increase in water stations.
Drinking more water and cutting back on sugary drinks can also improve oral health, but this also disproportionately affects San Franciscans of color. For example, black, Asian, and Latino kindergarteners in San Francisco are more likely to have cavities than white kindergarteners, and kindergarteners in the Mission are also at higher risk for cavities.
The measure is scheduled to be repealed in 2028 unless renewed.
Maria Cohen, the state administrator and former 10th District supervisor who initially championed the tax, said for her part that she continues to meet with American Beverage Association lobbyists at the state Capitol. “It’s like what your worst nightmare is made of,” she said. “They spend a lot of money trying to influence state governments.”