Beat it

Beat it

Big Soda Is Totally Freaking Out About This Local Ordinance

Will spending $1.7 million stop a small city from enacting a tax on sugary drinks?
—By Josh Harkinson

In a couple of weeks, residents of Berkeley, California, will decide whether or not to place a penny-an-ounce tax on sugary beverages such as sweetened teas and sodas. The beverage industry has fought off similar taxes and restrictions in every American city where they've been proposed, but it has never faced a more formidable challenge than it does in this overwhelmingly liberal and well-educated college town.
The soda fight is, if nothing else, a case study in whether truckloads of cash can sway a politically engaged citizenry.
Early polls show almost two-thirds of Berkeley residents favoring the tax proposal, known as Measure D. If Big Soda can defeat a tax here, the thinking goes, it can defeat one anywhere. Yet if the industry loses, the momentum could swing to the nutritionists and health advocates who've argued for years that sugar-packed foods and sugary drinks are the smoking guns in our diabetes and obesity epidemics—despite decades of campaigning by the sugar industry to make us believe otherwise. (A new study suggests that drinking a 20-ounce soda daily can age your cells as much as smoking does.)
To date, beverage companies have poured an astounding $1.7 million into derailing this small-city measure, more than $21 per registered voter. With No on D ads flooding local TV and radio broadcasts, newspapers, bus stops, light-rail stations, and residential doorknobs—not to mention all the mailers and handouts from paid canvassers, it can feel like the whole city is under invasion by a propaganda machine. The soda fight is, if nothing else, a case study in whether truckloads of cash can sway a politically engaged citizenry.
Rather than defend the merits of sugary beverages or even question the point of taxing them, the ads seem designed to confuse voters and breed cynicism about how the money will be spent. I snapped some photos of the advertising around town and asked the measure's outgunned campaign to respond to some of the claims.
Anti-Measure D ads appear on numerous Berkeley bus shelters. Clear Channel Outdoor, which handles the advertising did not return a call seeking information about their cost and placement.
According to Sara Soka, the campaign manager for Berkeley vs. Big Soda, as the pro-D campaign is known, milk products and 100% fruit juice were exempted due to their nutritional value. Soda, on the other hand, is just empty calories. "It's not like kids are walking around and drinking milkshakes," Soka says. Liquid sweeteners added to coffee drinks are taxed. Alcohol is exempted because it's already taxed. Diet drinks, while not exactly good for you, also aren't strongly linked to diabetes or obesity.
Two of Berkeley's three BART stations, I discovered, were awash with ads opposing the measure. According to Berkeleyside, a local news site, the No campaign has spent $46,750 on the BART ads alone. Here are more shots at the North Berkeley station.
But before I outed myself as a reporter, I wanted to hear their pitch to voters firsthand. Here's a short clip from my chat with one canvasser. (The background music is coming from his cell phone).
One of the reasons he said I should vote against the measure—I'm actually an Oakland resident, so I can't vote on it either way—is that it would hurt local businesses and the poor. Now it's conceivable that someone going on a big soda run might pop over the border to avoid the tax, but it's hard to imagine that anyone grabbing a drink at the local convenience store would bother.
As for whether the tax would hurt the poor, Soka of Berkeley vs. Big soda argues that the tax was in fact designed to help low-income people by reducing the obesity epidemic that disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. And while some people may not like the nanny-state aspect of that, Measure D has been endorsed by the NAACP and Latinos Unidos. If the measure's opponents "were truly concerned about communities of color or low-income communities," Soka said, "they would stop using them as a target."
Here are some flyers the canvassers were handing out:
The fairness factor is always a nice argument. The irony, though, is that soda interests used nearly the opposite critique to defeat a soda-tax proposal in nearby Richmond two years ago. The wording of the Richmond proposal did not explicitly exclude certain beverages, such as soy milk and baby formula. So "they immediately attacked us saying that we were going to tax that," recalls Jeff Ritterman, who led the Richmond effort. And although the city attorney clarified that the tax would indeed exempt those drinks, the industry's campaign firm kept using the bogus claims, right up through Election Day.
Over at the Ashby BART station, which was covered completely in anti-Measure D ads, I encountered still more canvassers.
Berkeleyside has found it necessary to respond to the prominent use of its logo: "Many Berkeley residents have been confused by that literature, and have asked Berkeleyside whether the news site has taken a position to oppose Measure D," the publication noted in an article about the flyers. "Berkeleyside does not take editorial positions. The flyer is a production of the No on Measure D campaign."
In fact, most of the relevant op-eds on the site support Measure D. But Big Soda has spent almost $10,000 placing ads on Berkeleyside, and tens of thousands more on similar ads in most local publications. Here's a two-page spread in the East Bay Express, which also has covered the fight.
The argument about the tax receipts going into Berkeley's general fund instead of being earmarked for, say, nutrition programs—a pitch I also heard from the canvasser—is misleading at best, the soda-tax proponents say. There's a reason it's not earmarked: Under California law, you need a two-thirds majority to pass a local ordinance that earmarks tax money for a specific use. (One reason why a similar proposal in San Francisco is far less likely to pass.) Measure D, Soka informs me, would direct the Berkeley City Council to appoint a panel of experts with backgrounds in nutrition and education to determine how to spend the money. And it's almost a given that the cash would go toward health and education programs for low-income communities.
Even if they don't watch TV, use public transit, or read local newspapers, Berkeleyans can hardly avoid these:
A doorknob hanger.
Foes of the Measure D also have done at least seven mass mailings, defined as mailings targeting more than 200 households. Here's one mailer:
The White Pages doesn't show anybody named Masanoni Yasumagn living in Berkeley. But they do list a very similarly named resident, Masanori Yasunaga, who happens to be the CEO of Calbee, Inc.—the "second largest snack company in the world."
Here's another mailer. What is this woman thinking? If she were an actual Berkeley resident, she might be wondering why she's getting so many anti-Measure D mailers.
Or rather, read the soda industry's annotated version.
Until recently, there were a lot more signs around town like the one below. But that was before the city sent out two letters warning the campaigns that it's illegal to place yard signs on public property. Now No on D yard signs can only be found in actual yards—which is to say, not many can be found.  After driving all over town one morning, this was the only one I saw, and only after I asked Sara Soka where I might find one.

Whey to go - new food fad a boon for Dutch dairy farmers

The powerful Dutch dairy industry is scrambling to cash in on exploding demand for whey, a cheese by-product once used mainly in cattle feed that's turned into a global nutritional hit.
Over the last decade powdered whey, produced when milk separates into curd during the cheese-making process, has become a multibillion-euro industry. Analysts say research has proven that whey, once the ugly stepsister to its more widely consumed sibling, cheese, is in fact one of the planet's best sources of natural protein.
From bodybuilding supplements to infant formula and fortified meals for the elderly, demand for whey has skyrocketed over the last five years, with even non-dairy companies wanting a piece of the action. And analysts predict that is likely to keep growing, driven by a taste for imported dairy products from Asia's growing middle class and the expanding ranks of elderly around the world.
Last year whey powder and proteins represented a global market of €7.6 billion (HK$75.2 billion), up 36 per cent from 2011, said Tage Affertsholt, dairy market specialist at the Danish-based 3A Business Consulting Group.
By 2017, the market will have expanded to €9 billion, Affertsholt predicted. The demand for whey "just keeps growing, irrespective of the relative poor performance of the global economy," he said. "Some people used to say whey is a by-product. Today cheese has become something of a by-product."
Investment in the whey industry since 2012 has topped €3 billion globally, including €2 billion in Europe. "At one stage whey was worth pretty much nothing, only good to go into cattle feed," Rabobank senior analyst Kevin Bellamy said. "Today, whey forms a major part of many dairy companies' profits."
The Dutch dairy industry is fighting for its stake in the rapidly expanding market.
"All the major dairy companies in the world are squaring up for control of the liquid whey industry," said Affertsholt.

One of the world's largest dairy cooperatives, FrieslandCampina, now produces more than 350,000 tonnes of "whey dry matter" a year. Fonterra plans to export whey from there to the half-billion-euro Chinese market, said Jan Willem van der Windt, the company's European financial director.

Michael Bloomberg funds campaign to impose fizzy drink tax in California

Former New York mayor takes his war on sugary ‘soda’ to town of Berkeley

By Rosa Prince

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is taking his war against fizzy drinks to California by funding a campaign to impose a tax on sugary beverages.
The billionaire businessman, who was made an honorary knight by the Queen this month, waged an ultimately unsuccessful effort to introduce a ban on the sale of supersized soft drinks in New York City during his time as mayor.
He has now donated thousands of dollars to a group in the town of Berkeley which is fighting to persuade voters to impose a one cent an ounce tax on fizzy drink – or soda as it is called in the US.
So far he has given $85,000 (£53,000) and is expected to donate more as the campaign continues. The measure will be voted on next month.
The contribution was welcomed by the group, which had been heavily outspent by its opponents in the drinks industry, having raised only $135,000 (£84,000) by last week.
In contrast, those seeking to block the new law had already spent $1.4 million (£870,000), the equivalent of $12 (£7.46) per voter in a town of only 117,000.
Howard Wolfson, one of Mr Bloomberg’s advisers, told the New York Times that the money would be spent on campaign literature and efforts to persuade those who support the measure to turn out on election day.
He added: “We want to come in and try to equalise the spending disparity, which is enormous.”
Last year, Mr Bloomberg contributed nearly $10 million (£6.2 million) to a successful campaign to tax fizzy drinks in Mexico. Retailers say sales have plunged since then.
The 72-year-old former Republican who became an independent mayor has contributed large sums of money to a number of causes, including gun control and the environment.

The Walmart Way of Business: When Profits Go Up, Cut Health Care for 30,000 Employees


Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Walmart is a wildly successful company. Its “corporate fact sheet” online boasts that for “the fiscal year ended January 31, 2014, Walmart increased net sales by 1.6% to $473.1 billion and returned $12.8 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Walmart ranked first on the 2014 Fortune 500 list of "the world’s largest companies by revenue.”
Yet despite the retail behemoth's growing financial prosperity, which greatly benefits the company's shareholders, executives and especially the Walton family, the company has now decided that poverty wages are not bad enough for its employees. It will also cut their benefits. Walmart just announced that it will both be cutting health care coverage altogether for 30,000 part-time employees (about 2 percent of its workforce) while increasing the premiums paid by its other employees. The size of the premium increases is significant—biweekly premiums for its lowest-cost employee plans will rise 19 percent from $3.50 to $21.90.
Walmart's latest move on health care is just the latest in its crusade to build a business empire based on cheap labor, one where even full-time workers need food stamps to survive. It is notorious for suppressing employee rights, going as far as to shut down entire stores that have unionized. In 2013, a Congressional report estimated that Walmart's failure to provide decent wages and benefits could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 per store thanks to government provision of food stamps and other aid. Chances are that number will increase now.
Thanks to all this, the Waltons, the Walmart heirs, have more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans—estimated at $102.7 billion in 2012.

Mexico: Study Finds Soft Drink Tax Effective

Coke is the second most recognized word in the world behind “okay", but a new tax in Mexico has reduced the consumption in the nation with the highest consumption per capita of the sugar high beverage.
After a new tax on soft drinks, over half of Mexicans have reduced their consumption of sugary soft drinks, the National Obesity Survey found.
The taxes in Mexico add one peso, about 7 cents, to the cost of a liter of sugary drinks in addition to a 5 per cent of the price to foods with 275 calories or more per 100 grams.
The survey also found that almost all respondents recognized that the consumption of soft drinks was a cause of obesity and diabetes.
Seventeen percent of respondents said they consumed more than three liters of soft drinks a week this year, down from the 25 percent who drank this amount in 2013.
“Consumers are becoming aware of the fact that drinking soda and sugary beverages is bad,” said the organization which is made up of non-governmental organizations in the report.
Ex Mexican president Vicente Fox (2000-2006) was a top Coca-Cola executive, as Mexico saw a 3 fold increase in its coca-cola products.
The nation is the highest consumer in the world of Coca-Cola products followed by Chile and the United States.
For example, in Los Altos, each inhabitant drinks 2.25 liters daily and is the reason why the bottles there are extra-large and not sold anywhere else.
And directly related to this, Mexico is the country with the second-largest number of obese adults, trailing just the United States, and has the largest number of overweight children.
But the Coke empire is still expanding in developing nations, with in 2000, BRIC countries making up only 12 percent of Coke’s total sales. By 2010, they hit 20 percent of its total sales, and they’re expected to make up 25 percent of Coke’s global sales by 2015.
Another Latin American nation, Ecuador plans to introduce a tax on food sold by fast food chains, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said on September 4.
Details of the plans have yet to be disclosed, but Correa said the revenue from the tax will be used to fund health care spending.

Eating Disorders May Start In Elementary School

Eating disorders may start in elementary school, according to research conducted at the University of Montreal. The study, presented at a meeting of the Eating Disorders Association of Canada in Vancouver, surveyed data  on 215 kids (ages 8-12) with eating problems.
The research  team found that over 15 percent made themselves vomit from time to time, 52 percent had been hospitalized because of their eating disorder, and 48 percent had received outpatient treatment.
"Many researchers believe that bulimia only appears at adolescence, but our studies indicate that the problem can arise much earlier. It is possible that it is currently under-diagnosed due to a lack of awareness and investigation," said study  author Dominique Meilleur.
"Many factors are associated with the development and persistence of eating disorders," she added. "For some children, bullying can initiate or reinforce body image preoccupations and possibly lead  to a change in eating behavior."
Twenty-three percent of the kids questioned said they had been mocked or bullied because of their appearance.

Mediterranean Diet May Help Reverse Metabolic Syndrome

Twitter @CarolynMcC, or

The Mediterranean diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, beans, fish and olive oil, may help reverse metabolic syndrome, according to research conducted at the Hospital  Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus, in Spain. The study, published in CMAJ, surveyed the effects of the Mediterranean diet on metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by a collection of risk factors for heart disease.
The study  compared results of one group on the Mediterranean diet against a group on a low fat diet over a period of five years. Twenty-eight percent of those who maintained the Mediterranean diet no longer met the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
"It seems that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or virgin olive oil has similar effects on the metabolic syndrome reversal," said lead  author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, which include increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Managing The Cost Of Your Diabetes

Diabetes is an expensive disease. Approximately 9.3% of Americans have diabetes and another 27% have pre-diabetes. In 2012, the estimated direct medical costs such as doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and medications were $176 BILLION. Based on these numbers, diabetes alone accounts for 7% of the money we spend in our health care system. In addition, we lose $69 billion per year in reduced productivity – time off from work for doctor’s visits and hospitalizations, early disability, and early death all cost our society. The epidemic of obesity will only make these costs more staggering in the future. What can we do to improve these dreadful statistics? Importantly, if you have diabetes, what can you do to cut the cost of your illness?
There are two main classifications of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in childhood or young adulthood, and is an autoimmune phenomenon that destroys the ability of the pancreas to make insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and eventually the pancreas burns out. Type 2 diabetes is usually adult onset and is the result of obesity and genetic predisposition. The obesity epidemic has significantly increased the number of children with Type 2 diabetes. The distinction between types of diabetes is important both in treatment and in financial implications.
Personal Cost of Diabetes
Many people think of diabetes as just a problem with “high sugar” levels.  Have you ever spilled something sweet on your hands? It leaves them sticky and gross, especially if you can’t wash them and gunk gets on top of the sugar. Imagine your blood having high levels of a substance doing the exact same thing to your body. As it courses through your blood vessels, it coats all your organs, and here is what happens:
•           Your heart becomes more susceptible to cholesterol and other lipids, leading to clogging of the arteries, which increases your risk of heart attacks.
•           In fact, all your blood vessels become susceptible to fatty plaque build-up – increasing risk of strokes in your brain and arteries becoming clogged in your legs, which then results in a higher risk of amputations. And for the guys, it also decreases blood flow to your penis, making sexual performance a distant memory.
•           The sugar messes up the function of specialized cells needed for vision and sensation – leading to blindness and neuropathy. When you can’t feel your feet, you can become easily injured, leading to yet higher risk of amputation.
Fortunately, taking good care of blood sugar levels improves lifespan and more importantly, quality of life. Of course, better health leads to lower health care costs. Let’s examine the financial cost of diabetes on a personal level.
•           People diagnosed with diabetes incur medical expenses 2.3 times higher on average than those without diabetes.
•           Poorly controlled diabetes makes it nearly impossible to get individual disability insurance, life insurance, and long term care insurance. There are policies available for those with well controlled diabetes, but for disability and long term care insurance, these policies can be expensive. Life insurance can be obtained for less well controlled diabetes, although at more expensive rates.
•           If you take great care of your diabetes, you should only have to see your doctor no more than four times a year. However, if your diabetes is in poor control, you will see the doctor more often and end up in the hospital periodically. This will increase use of sick days and potentially affect your income.
•           Diabetic patients need to follow a special diet, which includes a majority of healthy foods. Healthy meals are more expensive than the typical American diet.
Decreasing Out of Pocket Costs for Diabetes
The obvious way to decrease out of pocket costs for diabetes is to keep your blood sugar in good control through a healthy diet, exercise, and appropriate use of medication. By creating a consistent method of care, you can decrease doctor visits and stay in better health. Make this the bedrock of your care plan.
•           Until your diabetes is in good control, keep a diary of when and what you eat. A great (and free) application to do this is MyFitnessPal.
•           In conjunction with your diet diary, input your daily blood sugar checks. Your doctor may have you check your glucose anywhere from one to four times a day, depending on your medication and level of control.
•           Be very consistent with taking your medication, whether it be insulin or oral medication.
•           Show your doctor your diet diary and your glucose levels. If your glucose levels are in good control, they will back off on how often they need to see you. If your glucose levels are not in good control, you have provided the information they need to adjust your medications appropriately. Over time, if you are following your diet, you will obtain good control of your diabetes and visits will be less frequent.
Other tips to decrease out of pocket costs:
•           According to Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer, a pediatric endocrinologist, some health plans do a better job covering diabetic supplies. If you are responsible for purchasing your own insurance, make certain your plan covers what you are using. Ask your physician and health insurance agent to recommend plans that may better cover your needs.
•           Generally, for those who need to go to the doctor often, copays and deductibles are maxed out each year. If you take great care of your diabetes, you may not see the doctor as often and your deductibles and copays may not max out. It may then pay to obtain a higher deductible plan with lower yearly premiums.
By becoming an empowered patient and taking care of your diabetes, good health and lower health care costs can be the lasting result.

We should all be eating more Avocados. Here's why

Including avocado with your meals may help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the urge for overweight adults to eat more, according to new research just released on the consumption of avocados.

Researchers at Loma Linda University investigated whether adding fresh avocado to a midday meal had any effect on insulin response, blood sugar levels, feelings of fullness and food intake for the rest of the day.

Their initial findings determined that there was indeed a basis for further research into the benefits of adding avocado to a meal or replacing some parts of the meal with fresh avocado
The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is currently financially supporting several clinical trials to discover if there is a relationship between increased consumption of avocados and positive effects on diabetes, weight management and risk factors of heart disease.
In the meantime, here are 10 health benefits of avocados that we already know:

1. Benefits in pregnancy
Avocados are a natural source of folate which contains folic acid and is important for the development of a healthy fetus. Synthetic versions of folic acid are recommended for all women who are planning to get pregnant; eating avocados is a simpler and tastier option!

2. Avocados are brimming with ‘good’ fats
You may have heard that you should avoid avocados due to their high fat content. This is not quite the case. While they are very high in fat (and calories) these are monounsaturated fats or ‘good fats’. They assist good heart health and help to lower blood pressure. The monounsaturated fats found in avocados can also help to reverse insulin resistance which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

3. Fantastic source of Vitamin E
Avocados are the fruit with the highest level of Vitamin E (yes avocados are a fruit!) Vitamin E is an essential vitamin and helps to maintain overall health. Vitamin E also has positive effects on heart disease, stroke, cancer prevention, and development of cataracts and is widely claimed to have anti-aging properties.

4. Source of dietary fiber
Avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber meaning they help to reduce cholesterol levels by preventing re-absorption, help to maintain bowel function and can assist the body to avoid blood sugar spikes after meals.

5. You know exactly what you’re getting when you buy an avocado
At the time of writing there are no genetically modified avocado crops. Avocados have such a thick skin that the inner fruit is protected from pesticides making the cost of organic avocados something you can bypass if you're on a super-tight budget.

6. Avocados are a ‘brain food’
Dr. Daniel G. Amen considers them one of the best brain-healthy foods that you can consume to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Omega 3 fatty acids as well as Vitamin E are naturally occurring in avocados and have been clinically proven to stop Alzheimer's disease from progressing and possibly even reversing the very early stages.

7. Better nutrient absorption
Adding avocado to a meal has been found to increase the amount of carotenoids absorbed from that meal by up to 5 times. Carotenoids include beta carotene and lycopene which are important nutrients for good health. This increase is through to be due to nutrients and enzymes in avocados that reduce stomach inflammation and inflammation in the small intestine’s mucous lining. So you not only get the powerhouse of nutrients contained in the avocado but you get greater benefits from the foods you choose to eat with it.

8. May aid in stroke prevention
The high folate levels that are beneficial to pregnant women may also play a part in reducing the incidence of stroke. Those who eat diets that contain a lot of folate have been shown to suffer stroke far less than those who eat less folate in their everyday diet.

9. Reduction of cholesterol
One study has shown a 17% decrease in cholesterol levels for participants who ate increased amounts of avocado for just one week. Researchers believe this is due to beta-sitosterol which has previously been found to assist in lowering cholesterol levels.

10. Protection for your eyes
Eating avocados can increase your levels of Lutein which protects against macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. Further research is needed to determine exactly what it is that may assist in

Adding an avocado into your daily diet and reaping the above benefits is so easy. Avocado is great added to salads, made into guacamole and even eaten alone with ground pepper and a few drops of olive oil. It can also easily be substituted for fats in cooking and baking. Take out the oil or butter and replace it with the same amount of avocado. You’ll add interesting flavors to your cooking and will be helping your overall health.

Mikhail Gorbachev reportedly 'fighting for his life' as health deteriorates in hospital (diabetes.)

Jenn Selby   

“My state of health has been moderate for a week and today I am in hospital,” agency Ria Novosti quoted the 83-year-old politician as saying.
“My health is deteriorating.”
“I'm hooked up to a monitor,” he added.
Meanwhile, he reportedly told the Interfax news agency: “You know my character. I am determined to fight for my life.”
Gorbachev was forced to deny rumours that he had passed away in 2013, following a series of false reports purportedly published by Ria Novosti. The news agency later claimed they had been hacked.
He apparently used an expletive to describe the hackers, before adding that they had been “hoping in vain”.
Famed for introducing widespread reforms glasnost (openness) and perestroika (rebuilding), Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union in 1985.
A Nobel Peace laureate, who has been heavily critical of the aggressive foreign policy of current Russian President Vladimir Putin, is thought to suffer from diabetes.

Do you freak'n believe this?

Soda industry spends $7.7 million to defeat SF sugar tax — so far

By Heather Knight
-highest amount ever spent to defeat a San Francisco ballot proposition — on its effort to try to prevent the city from becoming the first in the country to tax sodas and other sugary drinks.
Proposition E on the Nov. 4 ballot is drawing plenty of national attention — and plenty of cash from the soda industry. Its campaign contributions so far trail only the nearly $10 million Pacific Gas and Electric spent to defeat a public power measure in 2008.
The soda industry’s spending is revealed in 70 pages of campaign finance forms just filed with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. Some of the biggest expenditures include $820,000 to well-known San Francisco campaign consultants John Whitehurst, Sam Lauter and Mark Mosher and $2.6 million to Goddard Gunster, a Washington, D.C., public affairs firm.
The soda industry has also paid for polling, for a talent agency to find actors for its commercials, for billboard space around the city, and for advertising space on just about every local radio and television station in the Bay Area.
It has also paid local political clubs, covering the ideological spectrum from the San Francisco Republican Party to the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, to produce slate cards mailed to voters to announce their endorsements including No on E.
The spending so far is enough to pay every registered voter in San Francisco $15.50.
The American Beverage Association has also paid an additional $1.4 million to defeat a soda tax measure on Berkeley’s ballot, spending less there to reflect the smaller media market, according to Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the campaign to defeat Prop. E.
'Eyeball popping’ numbers
“It’s extraordinary, it’s eyeball popping,” Supervisor Scott Wiener, an author of Prop. E, said of the soda industry’s spending so far. “Not surprisingly, the corporations that are profiting from selling disease-causing products are spending as much money as it takes to defeat a smart public health measure.”
Prop. E would levy a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks, including some juices, coffees and flavored waters. It is expected to raise more than $31 million a year. The money would go to children’s nutrition and physical education programs.
The campaign to pass Prop. E has raised $225,000 so far, mostly in small donations including several from medical groups and professionals.
Opponents of the proposition argue it’s a “nanny state” attempt to control what people eat and drink — and that it would make groceries more expensive in a city with a cost of living that’s already outrageous.
Salazar said the big spending by the soda industry is necessary.
“We have a responsibility to inform the voters that this tax will raise the cost of living for thousands of San Franciscans already struggling in an increasingly expensive city,” he said. “Someone needs to give voice to the consumers and small-business owners impacted by these misguided propositions.”
Wiener scoffed at the idea the soda industry is paying millions just to get the voices of small-business owners and struggling residents out there. He said it’s obvious the soda industry cares only about its bottom line and knows that the passage of a soda tax in San Francisco could prompt other cities and states to adopt their own.
“When this election is over, they’re going to be out of here — they don’t care about the health of our community,” Wiener said. “Coke and Pepsi aren’t going to have to deal with the fallout of the health crisis. We are.”
Tougher task in S.F.
Berkeley’s measure needs only the majority of voters to approve it since its tax — 1 cent per ounce — would go to the city’s general fund. Proponents believe they stand a good chance in that famously liberal city.
San Francisco’s Prop. E, however, needs two-thirds of voters to support it because its taxes go to a specific purpose.
Wiener said it will probably be close.
“Are we guaranteed to win? Absolutely not,” he said. “We have a shot at winning, and we’re just going to keep working and keep building community support.”
John Maa, a surgeon and a member of the San Francisco Medical Society, which has endorsed Prop. E, said the soda industry is clearly afraid that city voters who have long supported cigarette taxes and other similar public health measures will support taxing sodas.
“This could be the tipping point for a wave of similar legislation across the nation,” he said.
He quipped that the soda industry could be hurting after sinking a total of $9.1 million into defeating the San Francisco and Berkeley measures.
“They might have to raise soda prices on their own to make up for it,” he said.
Heather Knight is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:

Here's the headline; In this Mexico's government does a better job protecting it's citizen than we do

    Mexico's Junk Food Taxes Hitting Pepsi, Coke

By CANDICE CHOI AP Food Industry Writer

No wonder Coke and Pepsi are spending millions of dollars to fight proposed taxes on sugary drinks in California.
PepsiCo reported a higher quarterly profit Thursday as global sales rose, but one weak spot was Mexico. The company said snacks sales volume declined by 3 percent, hurt by a new tax on junk foods.
Recent declines suffered by Pepsi and Coke in Mexico underscore why the beverage industry is fighting tax proposals on sugary drinks in in San Francisco and nearby Berkeley.
PepsiCo — which makes Frito-Lay chips, Gatorade and Tropicana — reported similar declines in its snacks business for the first half of the year, starting when the tax went into effect.
Coca-Cola, which reports its third quarter results Oct. 21, has also reported beverage volume declines in Mexico for the first half of the year, citing a similar tax on drinks. Mexico has the world's highest per capita consumption of Coca-Cola drinks.
Hugh Johnston, chief financial officer for PepsiCo, said in a phone interview that declines in Mexico were in line with what the company expected. To mitigate the impact of the tax, he said PepsiCo plans to target different package sizes for different outlets.
The taxes in Mexico add one peso, about 7 cents, to the cost of a liter of sugary drinks, and 5 percent of the price to foods with 275 calories or more per 100 grams.
It's not yet clear whether the taxes' impact on consumption will last or how significant it will be over time. And while PepsiCo monitors such tax initiatives around the world, Johnston said he doesn't expect them to become more common.
Back in the U.S., San Francisco and Berkeley are seeking to become the first cities to pass per-ounce taxes on sugary drinks in the upcoming November election. The measures are being closely watched because many say defeats in the Bay Area, which is known for its liberal politics, would be a major blow to advocates of such taxes as a way to improve nutrition. Similar measures in other U.S. cities have failed.
Health advocates have pushed taxes as a tool to cut consumption of calorie-laden junk food, similar to tactics that have successfully been used against cigarettes. Makers of such products say they are being unfairly singled out.
During a conference call with analysts and investors, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi addressed the measures in California and said she believed such "discriminatory taxes" are "wrong."
"We will make our case and hope the voters are sensible enough to look at the right answer," Nooyi said.
Since the start of this year, the American Beverage Association contributed $7.7 million to defeat the proposal in San Francisco alone, according to a filing made this week.
That's far more than the $391,000 in contributions reported by supporters of the tax over the same time.
In the meantime, the beverage industry has touted its commitment to reducing the calories people consume from drinks by more aggressively marketing drinks with less sugar. The industry has also stressed the need to raise awareness about balancing the calories people consume with how much physical activity they get.

Thank God for small victories

Chain Restaurants Cutting Calories, Study Says

On average chain restaurants across the U.S. are cutting calories, according to research conducted at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School  of Public Health. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, surveyed menu items from 66 of the nation's top 100 restaurants in 2012 and 2013.
Newer, lower calorie items were found to contain an average of 60 fewer calories than other menu items. Sara Bleich, lead  author of the study, says that it's an excess of fewer than 200 calories a day that contributes to obesity.
"This study verifies that restaurants and chefs have made significant progress in creating new menu offerings that are both innovative and nutritious," said Joan McGlockton, vice president  of industry affairs and food policy at the National Restaurant Association, in a statement.

Bleich adds that a federal rule to expand calorie-posting nationwide is likely responsible for chains cutting calories. 

The American Diabetes Association Applauds Stronger Screening Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes

ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwired - Oct 7, 2014) - The American Diabetes Association (Association) applauds the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for elevating the draft recommendation for Screening of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Adults, released yesterday. The USPSTF's draft recommendation will now include multiple risk-factor based type 2 diabetes screening for asymptomatic patients in addition to screening those who have high blood pressure, which was previously the only screening guideline under the existing recommendation last updated in 2008.
In issuing today's draft recommendation, the USPSTF has taken into consideration the abundance of evidence demonstrating that risk-factor based screening for type 2 diabetes will identify more individuals with the disease. Today, 8 million of the nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. living with diabetes have not been diagnosed with the disease. The estimated economic cost of undiagnosed diabetes is a staggering $18 billion annually. It is crucial to identify these cases in order for patients to engage in proper diabetes management and prevent costly and dangerous complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke blindness, amputation and kidney disease.
"The American Diabetes Association is thrilled with the decision of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to strengthen their recommendation and take into consideration the wealth of research pointing to the need for risk-factor based screening in type 2 diabetes," said Robert Ratner, MD, Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, American Diabetes Association. "Early diagnosis of both type 2 and prediabetes is essential in improving the outcomes for these patients. Undeniable data show the efficacy and cost effectiveness of preventing diabetes. This new draft recommendation is a step in the right direction in the ongoing fight to Stop Diabetes®."
The American Diabetes Association has long advocated for risk-factor based screening for type 2 diabetes in our annual Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes. There are a number of factors associated with type 2 diabetes, including advanced age, being overweight or obese, family history of type 2 diabetes, and being a member of certain minority population that increase a patient's risk for type 2 diabetes. Using risk-factor based screenings will lead to diagnosing more individuals who are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, but also help to identify those with prediabetes who are at high risk for developing type 2 and once diagnosed, can work to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
A 2013 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found screening using the current USPSTF recommendations results in missing more than half of those who have undiagnosed diabetes. The decision to broaden the screening recommendation is an essential step to improving diabetes health outcomes, as these recommendations offer guidance to health care providers on providing appropriate preventive care. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, preventive services that receive A or B ratings are covered through private insurance without cost-sharing. This means individuals at risk will have greater access to diabetes screening if the draft recommendation stands. As the USPSTF continues the process of developing the final recommendation, the Association applauds the efforts to improve screening guidelines and urges the USPSTF to uphold the draft recommendation.
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit
•           Contact:
Susan McCarthy
(703) 549-1500 ext. 1637