Opinion: New Tax Connects The Dots Between Soda And Diabetes

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During the recent midterm elections, voters in two Bay Area cities were asked to decide whether to make  buying and selling sugary drinks more expensive. The Measure in San Francisco failed, but Berkeley became the first city in the nation to pass a bill that taxes distributors extra for the soda, energy drinks and syrups they sell — a measure that is likely to drive up prices.

My friend and I recently made a bet that I couldn’t stop drinking juices with more than 60 grams of sugar. She thinks that I’m addicted to sugar. I remember walking to the corner store to buy my usual preferred drink, Ocean Spray’s Cran-Grape, and I turned the bottle around to see how much sugar it had in it. It turned out to have 35 grams of sugar, which equals about eight teaspoons. While I was standing there, staring at the back of the bottle, I started to think about my health, how sugar can affect the body and who makes the decisions about how much sugar is in the drinks we consume.

According to the University of California, San Francisco, 50% of African American youth and 33% of Latino youth born in the year 2000 will get Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime. There are links between the number of sugary drinks people consume and the likelihood that they will get Type 2 Diabetes. It concerns me, especially as a young person of color, that so many young African American and Latino youth in America that are only two years younger than me, have such a high chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes. What can we do about this?

People who are old enough to vote and live in San Francisco or Berkeley, were able to make an impact by taking a stand on the new measures on their ballots this year. In my opinion, Measure D in Berkeley and Measure E in San Francisco presented new policies to address the link between sugary drinks and diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.

Measure D in Berkeley passed. Beginning in January, people and companies who sell sugary beverages will be taxed at $.12 per ounce of soda. Maybe this will inspre other cities to start to tax sugary drinks as well, discouraging consumers from buying them. Even though the San Francisco sugary drink measure failed, all voters were forced to stop and think a second about the impact of purchasing an unhealthy drink. People in Berkeley will hopefully stop and think every time they reach for a soda, giving them not only the option to save money, but also the chance to work towards saving their health.

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