Sunday Commentary II: On Personal Struggles with Sugar Addiction

Sugary Beverage

Sugary Beverage

While we have spent much of the week talking about the political machinations around the soda tax, the underlying issue has gotten short shrift. I found Friday’s column by Bob Dunning offensive and a cheap shot.

He writes, “[P]aying for the sins of others … so, the other night, as our esteemed City Council was considering ways of taxing the citizenry — including the punitive ‘soda pop tax’ — a physician approached the public microphone to make her point.”

Mr. Dunning continues, “’I am a Coke addict,’ she said, according to the excellent report by Felicia Alvarez in this very newspaper … the good doctor went on to note that she had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic in her early 50s after a lifetime of drinking several sodas a day … she then went on to urge the council to put the soda pop tax on the June ballot …”

He adds, “In other words, because she was not smart enough, despite her medical training, to realize that Coca Cola was not good for her, the whole town will be punished for her bad habit … I mean, Diet Coke has been around for a long, long time and is generally available right next to the full-strength stuff wherever soda pop is sold. Doctor, heal thyself … and leave the rest of us alone …”

I find this kind of commentary offensive and dismissive. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Tia Will, the subject of this column. I don’t always agree with her and she doesn’t always agree with me, but no one can doubt her sincerity and her commitment to public health issues.

I have shared my struggles with diabetes in the past. One of the things I talked with Dr. Harold Goldstein about is that few people who don’t have diabetes understand just how bad the disease is, how many aspects of people’s lives the disease encompasses.

We acknowledge that drugs and alcohol have addictive qualities that physically and mentally compel the user to consume more, and often in higher qualities. We tend as a society to look down on addicts, we criminalize the act, we look at it as a weakness. I believe we need to look at addiction as a whole as a public health issue, rather than a criminal issue.

I think we need to look at the consumption of sugary foods and sugary beverages in much the same way. I am grateful to Robb Davis for eloquently articulating it – this is the public health crisis of our times.

I can tell you, I think diabetes is far more difficult to kick than drugs and alcohol and I’ll explain why. I used to work with a group of recovering alcoholics. They attended AA. The key thing about AA (whether it works or not is debatable) is abstinence. They believe that alcoholics cannot simply consume one drink.

I can go to a bar, have a beer or two and not drink again for a month, two months, even a year. But an alcoholic takes even one drink and they are likely to fall off the wagon again.

I am an addict too. I am addicted to sugar. If I have one cookie, I have ten cookies, I have a box of cookies. I have ten boxes of cookies. The problem is that, unlike the alcoholic, I have to consume sugar in some form or another. I cannot simply abstain from sugar, as I cannot abstain from food – and so every single day I have to struggle to maintain the right balance, and it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

So when I hear Bob Dunning say, “Doctor, heal thyself … and leave the rest of us alone …” the response I want is a four-letter word followed by a three-letter word.

Dr. Goldstein shared with me the tactics of the sugary beverage industry, and he very articulately described a sugary beverage as a sugar delivery system. What he couldn’t describe is how it feels as a diabetic to receive that delivery system, how it impacts my heart, my body. I can feel that sugar in my system almost instantly, and not only does it wreak havoc on my system, it leaves me wanting more.

We are killing our kids. When Dr. Goldstein talks about the number of kids who are diabetic and pre-diabetic, we are consigning them to a life of misery and suffering that most people cannot imagine.

This isn’t about depriving the community of their ability to consume sugar, this is about saving our children from the horrors of diabetes. This is about bringing public awareness to an issue that remains hidden in plain sight.

Will the soda tax work? I have no idea. I don’t think we knew what would happen when Davis became one of the first cities to ban smoking in public facilities. What we recognized is that, over time, smoking kills. The cigarette industry made billions off delivering a product that first addicted people, and then killed them.

In a lot of ways sugary beverages are the same. Dr. Goldstein cited data that suggested that half of the obesity, and by extension the problem of diabetes, is attributed to sugary beverages.

Some object that cigarettes are a drug – well, I believe sugar is a drug. It certainly acts like one to me – it changes my body chemistry, it changes my emotional responses, it impacts my health. And if I do not conquer my addiction, it will kill me – not today, but down the line. Just as smoking will likely kill millions of people through lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other respiratory diseases.

At the end of the day, Dr. Will did a very brave thing by relating her personal experience. She invited the ridicule of the insensitive. I don’t know that the soda tax will be the answer, but I believe that, for the sake of our children, we need to start somewhere.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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102 Comments

  1. Biddlin

    ” Dr. Will did a very brave thing by relating her personal experience.”

    Amen. While I don’t think Tia has a clue about the justice system her commitment to health is unquestionable.

    “I find this kind of commentary offensive and dismissive.”

    Offensive and dismissive are Dunning’s driver and 9 iron. The only way he’d work for one of my family’s papers would be as a delivery person.

  2. Tia Will

    Since I was the subject of Dunning’s disdain I would like to make some factual clarifications and one observation.

    First, the facts. I did not say that I was a Coke addict. What I said was ” I am a recovering Coke addict”. What Mr. Dunning either did not perceive or chose to ignore is the all important word “recovering”. This changes the entire significance of the remainder of my comments. My point was that I had “healed myself” by the act of giving up coke. This is not about relative intelligence. The person who is addicted to any substance knows intellectually that they should stop, but many are simply unable to make the change. The diagnosis of “pre diabetes” was my compelling moment.

    Another point I was making was that the “compelling moment” for each individual may vary. It might be a pregnancy, it might be dental problems, or it might be increased awareness ( as in a tax campaign), or my story told publicly, or increased cost. We don’t know what will be the trigger for any given individual to break their addiction. But what we do know is that our silence in the face of overwhelming advertising  ( to which Mr. Dunning apparently has no objection) is not the answer.

    Which brings me to my observation. Mr. Dunning is an editorialist and humorist. Presumably, he believes in freedom of expression. And yet his conclusion is that my differing opinion is so objectionable that I should just shut up….or in his words, “leave the rest of us alone.” Strikes me as a bit hypocritical to say nothing of undemocratic.

    1. Robert Canning

      Using the search criteria “sugar addiction” in Google Scholar there are a number of articles – both pro and con – the hypothesis. For instance:

      1. Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3):288-303. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.12.001. Epub 2009 Dec 28.
      The plausibility of sugar addiction and its role in obesity and eating disorders.
      Benton D1.

      2. Hoebel, B. G., Avena, N. M., Bocarsly, M. E., & Rada, P. (2009). A Behavioral and Circuit Model Based on Sugar Addiction in Rats. Journal of Addiction Medicine3(1), 33–41. http://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0b013e31819aa621

      2. Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews32(1), 20–39. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019

      3. Nutritional Neuroscience

      Volume 8, Issue 5-6 (01 October 2005), pp. 269-276

      Next >

      Implications of an animal model of sugar addiction, withdrawal and relapse for human health

      C. H. Wideman;G. R. Nadzam;H. M. Murphy

      4. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care:

      July 2013 – Volume 16 – Issue 4 – p 434–439
      doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c8b8
      CARBOHYDRATES: Edited by Luc Tappy and Bettina Mittendorfer

      Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit
      Ahmed, Serge H.a,b; Guillem, Karinea,b; Vandaele, Younaa,b

    2. Biddlin

      Certainly the caffeine found in most fizzy drinks is addictive. As for sugar, habituation or addiction?

      A distinction without a difference in the case of modern America. I am a campaigner for more thoughtful eating.  I have changed my own “habits” to incorporate more fresh fruits (loads of sugars there, btw) and vegetables and fewer processed sugary snacks. I am not passionate one way or another about the tax issue, but I generally prefer education to intimidation as an approach to social change.

      1. Tia Will

        Biddlin

         I generally prefer education to intimidation as an approach to social change.:

        I do too. That is why I have been engaging in education on this issue for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, it would appear so far to be a losing battle and I think that it is well past time to try other measures.

      2. Mark West

        Biddin: “I am a campaigner for more thoughtful eating.  I have changed my own “habits” to incorporate more fresh fruits (loads of sugars there, btw) and vegetables and fewer processed sugary snacks.” [emphasis mine]

        As you correctly point out, fresh fruits do indeed contain high levels of sugar. When we eat the whole fruit, however, we receive that sugar in conjunction with dietary fiber from the fruit as well. It is the balance of sugar and fiber (among other things) that our bodies have evolved to handle (along with our gut microflora).  We run into problems when we ingest high levels of sugar in the absence of dietary fiber, as happens when we eat processed foods and drink fruit juices.

         

  3. PhilColeman

    To reveal, in such a public way, a personal weakness to the level of an addiction is an act of great courage. I particularly respect acts of courage after measuring whether I could do the same act under similar circumstances. I don’t think I could have done what Tia did.

    Courageous persons need not fear misguided acts of sarcasm or misjudgments. They will have the courage to withstand it.

     

  4. PhilColeman

    Addictions vary with the beholder. My wife’s brother-in-law had decades of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and smoking, which he attributed to his career in the military. He was ultimately able to conquer all three, to the point where he devoted the rest of his life to counseling people who had similar addictions.

    He told me that smoking was his greatest addiction, the one that he gave up last. It took a massive heart attack to get his attention.

    But he also said that each addict is unique, what some persons can overcome rather easily others cannot. Therefore, from his training and professional experience, addictions cannot be ranked in severity for all the human population.

  5. Tia Will

    Frankly

    This is a good and fair question. When I prepared my comments for the City Council, I considered the perhaps more accurate word “habituating”. I deliberately chose the word addictive for both its common understanding and its emotional ( and humorous, as per the CC and audience reaction) and as an attention getter.

    I think that whether or not one considers soda an “addiction” depends upon the definition of the word that one is using. I was using the following definition from Wikipedia :

    Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviors.”

    My physiologic and behavioral engagement with Coke as my soda of choice would definitely fit this definition.

    “I  can’t find any peer-reviewed scientific papers supporting that claim.”

    For peer reviewed articles, you might want to check Google Scholar and search sugar addiction. They have included both supporting and disputing articles on this subject.

    1. Frankly

      Thanks.  Because, as you probably know, I put great emphasis on personal responsibility, I would tend to be more supportive of controls on substances that have true addictive qualities and less supportive of controls on those that don’t.

      But I think we need to tread lightly on this thinking that we should tax everyone for the struggles of a few.

      For example, I have read that some claim they are addicted to sex.  I would really hate to have a tax on that!

      1. David Greenwald

        Frankly: The struggles of the few? Half the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic, a quarter of youth are in the same category, that’s not the struggles of a few. Like I said, I don’t know that the tax is the answer, but if we end up funding programs for youth, I don’t see that there is a huge downside to a relatively small tax.

        1. Mark West

          “if we end up funding programs for youth,”

          The proposed Soda Tax is a general tax going into the unrestricted general fund.  How much confidence do you have that this CC majority and CM (or any combination in the same in the past two decades) will use the money to fund “programs for youth?”

        2. Matt Williams

          Mark West said . . . “The proposed Soda Tax is a general tax going into the unrestricted general fund.  How much confidence do you have that this CC majority and CM (or any combination in the same in the past two decades) will use the money to fund “programs for youth?””

          If the proposed Soda Tax is a general tax going into the unrestricted fund, then it is contrary to the very clear, formal, written advice that the FBC gave the Council on Monday.

           

          Motion (seconded and approved by a 5-0 vote)
           
          That the F& B C is recommending that the Davis City Council not approve any new tax measures or utility rate increases for placement on a ballot measure until such time that:
           
          1.     The staff provides a detailed scope of proposed and/or deferred capital infrastructure projects, as well as proposed new services.
           
          ·       Said scope document shall include specific measurable success metrics for the proposed new services and projects, along with an inventory of the specific costs that will be incurred to provide said proposed services or complete said projects.
           
          ·       Each deferred capital infrastructure project shall include its expected success metrics, as well as an anticipated budget.
           
          ·       The scope document will be updated each year as part of the Budget adoption process.
           
          2.     The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that reports the specific work done (accomplishments) the prior Fiscal Year on staff proposed services and project/s associated with item #1.
           
          3.     The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that defines where the revenues collected from any new tax/increased tax measure(s) spent on services and/or projects other than the services and/or projects associated with item #1.

           

  6. Tia Will

    Frankly

    But I think we need to tread lightly on this thinking that we should tax everyone for the struggles of a few.”

    We seem to have another disagreement on definition. Obesity and its related diseases are not “the struggles of a few”. The latest statistics from Kaiser in the North Valley ( from Davis on the west to Folsom on the east), and I would remind you that this is an extremely large population, is that 1/2 of our newly registering pregnant patients are either overweight ( BMI 25-30) or obese (  BMI 30 and above). This alone will have a profound effect not only of these women in their later years, but also places their unborn children at risk for the same disorders. The mechanism for this increased risk transmission remains unknown, so we cannot even mitigate the effect at this point in time.

    We will all end up paying for this, either a little bit now by taking small steps to reverse the trend, or a lot later to be paid in our health care bills.

  7. Tia Will

    Frankly

    I put great emphasis on personal responsibility”

    On this point we also agree. And, I would extend that personal responsibility to the manufacturers of these unhealthful substances that spend millions on marketing to children. Cute polar bears sharing Cokes as one example. Should we not be expecting them to take on some of the responsibility for profiting from the harm done to others ?

  8. Mark West

    Dr. Will:

    At what point, would greater product cost have become a deciding factor in changing your lifestyle choice for incorporate soda into your diet? 15% greater cost? 50%?  200%?  Would a local soda tax such as has been proposed in Davis have had any measurable impact on your own consumption?

     

     

      1. Mark West

        Yes, but that does not appear to be a local tax.  Apples and watermelons.

        I would fully support a Federal or State tax on added sugar in processed foods, and even an outright ban against adding fructose.

        A local tax, however, will have no impact on public health and should be viewed solely as a method for bringing more tax revenues into the general fund.

        1. David Greenwald

          Understand your point, I think what we see is that local taxes lead to state and federal ones. And like said, I think the council can bind itself even within the limits of the law on a general tax.

    1. Matt Williams

      Mark West asked . . . “At what point, would greater product cost have become a deciding factor in changing your lifestyle choice for incorporate soda into your diet? 15% greater cost? 50%?  200%?  Would a local soda tax such as has been proposed in Davis have had any measurable impact on your own consumption?”

      I believe Mark is asking the key public health policy question.  If the goal is to modify behavior, what is the “pain” threshold that will produce the modification?

      In recent years, almost every state and the federal government have increased tobacco taxes. The average state cigarette tax is currently $1.60 per pack, but rates vary widely from 17 cents in Missouri to $4.35 in New York.

      On April 1, 2009, the federal cigarette tax increased by 62 cents, to $1.01 per pack.

      In California the average price of a pack of cigarettes is reported to be $5.76, of which $0.87 is tobacco tax, and $0.45 is sales tax, and $1.01 is federal tax.  $2.33 in taxes and $3.43 in product costs.  That is just over 40% taxes, which means the base price of the product is being increased by 68%.  Why aren’t the public health advocates calling for a similarly high sugary beverage tax rate?

      1. David Greenwald

        Depends on how you look at it. A one-cent per ounce tax on a 72 ounce bottle is 72 cents, where you can buy a bottle on sale for 99 cents plus the taxes, that’s a pretty hard hitting tax. Same thing with a 12 pack, where you at $1.44 on a product that could cost between $3 and $6 a a piece, again fairly sizable.

        1. Matt Williams

          David, you are right, it does depend on how you look at it.  I checked the 12-pack of 12 ounce cans of soda I bought awhile back … 144 ounces total volume for a cost of $5.99.  A one-cent per ounce tax means a $1.44 increase in the price to $7.43, which is an increase of just over 24%.  Compare that to the 68% increase for a pack of cigarettes.

          The obvious follow-up question is what proportion of soda sales are in cans and individual serving bottles vs. what proportion of soda sales are in the bulk containers you have referenced.

           

           

  9. Tia Will

    Mark West

    At what point, would greater product cost have become a deciding factor in changing your lifestyle choice for incorporate soda into your diet? 15% greater cost? 50%?  200%?  Would a local soda tax such as has been proposed in Davis have had any measurable impact on your own consumption?”

    I don’t know the answer to what I see as reasonable questions. I am very, very fortunate to have become quite affluent as an adult. I can guess though. I suspect that I would have stopped at whatever point I made the realization that I was not buying certain things that I would like to for my children, or saving enough for their future. Obviously, that amount will change depending on an individual’s income. For me, it would be higher than for many.

    But I think that the question that you did not address to me is just as important. That question is would deliberate increase in my awareness of the issue have a made a difference ?  I believe, based on other choices that I have made that it would have. I decided to downsize largely due to my increasing realization that I was wasting valuable resources living in a very large house that I did not need. My last two car purchases  ( at ten year intervals) were hybrids as I became increasingly aware of my individual contribution to poor air quality. Inspired by my next door neighbor, I have recently started doing a fair amount of my shopping at the SPCA recycling perfectly good items rather than purchasing new. The added benefit is that I can walk there instead of making a car trip for new goods from a big box or mall.

    I think that just the fact that we are talking about this issue may be enough to prompt some to change their behaviors for the better.  Again Mark, I am advocating for this to come to a vote. I am not telling anyone how to vote, only advocating for my position with personal and professional experience as the basis for that position.

  10. Tia Will

    Mark

    I would fully support a Federal or State tax on added sugar in processed foods, and even an outright ban against adding fructose.”

    I agree.

    However, it is often individual communities incrementally making changes that drives initiatives at the State and Federal level. Some communities need to step up as leaders as no one seems to want to be the first. ( or in this case the second).  When enough come on board it is no longer seen as a radical step and as acceptance of the idea spreads, it is more likely that there will be State or Federal taxes adopted.

    I completely agree with you that a State or Federal tax would be better, but since we are not even beginning to consider such a step, I think that we should start with what is currently possible.

     

    1. Mark West

      Tia, you and David have both suggested that a local tax will lead to Federal or State action, but there is no evidence to suggest that is true.

      If the City’s voters decide that a local soda tax is the best way to increase revenues so be it. That tax, however, will not benefit public health, and stating that it will (or even suggesting it might) is disingenuous at best. For a public health professional to make that claim would, in my opinion, be both unprofessional and fraudulent.

       

      1. David Greenwald

        When I met with Dr. Goldstein who has been working on this across the state, he believes that in five years it will be in 20 cities and five states – we’ll see.

      2. David Greenwald

        “For a public health professional to make that claim would, in my opinion, be both unprofessional and fraudulent.”

        I think this comment is out of line and you need to apologize.

        1. Mark West

          “I think this comment is out of line and you need to apologize.”

          I don’t, and so I won’t.  Public Health professionals have an obligation to give factual information to the public when they are discussing public health issues. When they make claims that are not backed up by the evidence, they are using their professional position to push a private agenda, which is both unprofessional and in my opinion, fraudulent.

          There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that a local soda tax will have any impact on public health.  Push the tax if you want, but don’t make the false claim that it will provide a public health benefit.

          The problem here David, is that it was public health professionals who told us that dietary fat caused obesity and led to diabetes.  There was little or no evidence to back up the claim, just their collective intuition.  The same was true for the claim that dietary cholesterol led to high blood cholesterol and heart disease.  Fat in the diet makes the meal more satiating, so the tendency is to eat less.  Take the fat out, and the body’s signal to stop eating are not as effective, so we over-eat.  When you remove fat from processed foods, you have to replace it with added sugar to allow the foods to be palatable, a change that has dramatically increased the amount of sugar in our diet. The economically driven shift to cheaper fructose instead of sucrose exacerbated the problem further, due to the way our bodies process excess fructose.

          Ultimately, it was the public health professionals ‘war’ against fat in the diet, something that was unsupported by scientific evidence at the time, that led directly to the current obesity and diabetes epidemics.

          1. Don Shor

            it was public health professionals who told us that dietary fat caused obesity and led to diabetes. There was little or no evidence to back up the claim, just their collective intuition.

            A large body of experimental data generated in laboratory animals strongly supports the notion that high-fat diets are associated with impaired insulin action. It appears from animal studies that saturated fats, in particular, have the most detrimental effects. Based on this information, along with the known risks of high saturated fat intake on cardiovascular disease risk, professional organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made recommendations that Americans aim for a total fat intake of no more than 30% of calories and choose foods low in saturated fat. However, some authors have criticized the evidence on which these public health recommendations have been based (4), and it has been argued that total fat as a proportion of total energy is not important in the prevention of type 2 diabetes (5).

            The current study adds weight to the longstanding recommendation to restrict total fat and saturated fat. While adjusting for BMI eliminates the effect, this does not mean that dietary fat is not important. It is biologically plausible that high-fat diets promote weight gain, which then promotes insulin resistance. There is a large body of evidence that supports this view. In addition, there is growing evidence that obesity plays a central pathogenic role in the development of diabetes (1,2). This means that any dietary factor that promotes weight gain will likely promote the development of diabetes.

            http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/3/620.full

          2. David Greenwald

            Mark: I think you can make your argument without being personally insulting. As Don showed you, you facts are wrong here.

        2. Mark West

          Don:

          I commented on the public health community’s advocacy of a low- or no-fat diet 20-30 years ago leading to adverse changes in the American diet today, and you attempt to refute that by posting an article from early 2000’s suggesting a connection between a high-fat diet and diabetes.  Over consumption of any food type is likely to cause problems, so I have no problem with the general conclusion of the article that a high-fat diet leading to diabetes is ‘biologically plausible.’  If you read the article, however, you will see that the findings being reported, show that the connection between a high-fat diet and diabetes go away when they normalize the data. In other words, they don’t have data that confirms the connection, just some that suggests that it is still ‘biologically plausible.’ Nothing in the article contradicts my comments.

          DG:  “Mark: I think you can make your argument without being personally insulting. 

          Whom did I personally insult?  My argument is about the inappropriate behavior of public health professionals overstepping the evidence to push their personal beliefs. While, I may not be surprised to hear that someone reading my comment might feel insulted, that is not the same as my intentionally insulting someone.

          DG: “As Don showed you, you facts are wrong here.”

          No, he did not show that at all.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            Mark:

            “I commented on the public health community’s advocacy of a low- or no-fat diet 20-30 years ago leading to adverse changes in the American diet today, and you attempt to refute that by posting an article from early 2000’s….”

            Looking for the 20 – 30 years ago part. Nope. Not finding it.**

            Let me just repeat this point from my link:
            “It is biologically plausible that high-fat diets promote weight gain, which then promotes insulin resistance. There is a large body of evidence that supports this view.

            So when you say

            “DG: “As Don showed you, you facts are wrong here.”
            No, he did not show that at all.”

            I will partially agree. I showed you that a research team (“Julie A. Marshall, PHD and Daniel H. Bessesen, MD From the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado”) came to a different conclusion than you did. I see their credentials. What are yours?

            ** Here’s what you said exactly:

            “I don’t, and so I won’t.  Public Health professionals have an obligation to give factual information to the public when they are discussing public health issues. When they make claims that are not backed up by the evidence, they are using their professional position to push a private agenda, which is both unprofessional and in my opinion, fraudulent.
            There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that a local soda tax will have any impact on public health.  Push the tax if you want, but don’t make the false claim that it will provide a public health benefit.
            The problem here David, is that it was public health professionals who told us that dietary fat caused obesity and led to diabetes.  There was little or no evidence to back up the claim, just their collective intuition.  The same was true for the claim that dietary cholesterol led to high blood cholesterol and heart disease.  Fat in the diet makes the meal more satiating, so the tendency is to eat less.  Take the fat out, and the body’s signal to stop eating are not as effective, so we over-eat.  When you remove fat from processed foods, you have to replace it with added sugar to allow the foods to be palatable, a change that has dramatically increased the amount of sugar in our diet. The economically driven shift to cheaper fructose instead of sucrose exacerbated the problem further, due to the way our bodies process excess fructose.
            Ultimately, it was the public health professionals ‘war’ against fat in the diet, something that was unsupported by scientific evidence at the time, that led directly to the current obesity and diabetes epidemics.”

        3. Mark West

          Don:  Let me just repeat this point from my link:

          “It is biologically plausible that high-fat diets promote weight gain, which then promotes insulin resistance. There is a large body of evidence that supports this view.” [emphasis yours]

          Being biologically plausible is not proof of a connection.  It was biologically plausible that ingested cholesterol would turn into serum cholesterol. As a consequence, we were told that eating eggs was unhealthy, especially for those with a potential for heart disease. Subsequent research has shown that the connection does not exist.  Plausible yes, factual no.  Oops.

          Your article states that there is a large body of evidence that supports the notion that that the connection between a high-fat diet and diabetes is ‘biologically plausible,’ but does not identify any evidence that proves that the connection exists.  While I agree it is biologically plausible, that in no way contradicts what I stated before about the impact of the low-fat and no-fat advocacy over the past 30 years.  A high-fat diet is not the opposite of a low-fat or no-fat diet. All are extremes that should be considered in reference to a balanced diet.

           

           

          1. David Greenwald

            This was your words: “The problem here David, is that it was public health professionals who told us that dietary fat caused obesity and led to diabetes. There was little or no evidence to back up the claim, just their collective intuition. The same was true for the claim that dietary cholesterol led to high blood cholesterol and heart disease. ”

            Now when confronted by “A large body of experimental data generated in laboratory animals strongly supports the notion that high-fat diets are associated with impaired insulin action. ”

            You respond to this by stating, “Being biologically plausible is not proof of a connection.”

            So you’ve now gone from a false claim that there is “little or no evidence” to stating that this doesn’t constitute “proof.”

            You’re moving the goalposts now.

      3. Robb Davis

        Posting for the 3rd time, but I would add this first:  I have taught courses and written on public policy advocacy and there are plenty of examples of grass roots efforts, over time, leading to policy change at state and national levels.  One striking one in our lifetimes is the work of Bread for the World; a grassroots organization that mobilized members of the faith community to advocate for a variety of safety net programs related to food security.  Most people agree that their approach has been critical in leading change.  The bottom line is that a number of cities and at least two states are a considering sugar taxes. I had the opportunity to meet leading representatives of these efforts at a recent conference.  This is a movement that is just getting started.  Here is my original post:

        Comprehensive approaches that include education, public policy advocacy, and, in some cases like this one taxing substances that pose risks are what are necessary.  No one, least of all me, is in any way suggesting that this tax will in and of itself lead to change.  That would be ludicrous.  But it is important to deal with this issue and Davis can play a part.

        This reminds me in so many ways of the (now) decades-long fight (yes, fight) with the producers of breast milk substitutes who promoted their products as superior to breast milk.  The deathly repercussions of placing profit over morals was and is terrible to see (I have had mothers who lost children to malnutrition because they lacked the resources to mix the appropriate amount of formula with water, weep as they told me how they so desperately wanted to be “good moms” and thought using formula was the way to be a good mom).  Companies like Nestle used techniques analogous to what the beverage industry is using now to thwart change.  But change has come.

        The bottom line in that case (and in this one) is that change has to start somewhere, we need to be persistent, we need to collect facts on the damage being done, we have to use the state to create the policy environment in which change can occur, and we need to verify compliance (which is still a huge problem for breastmilk substitutes).

        Some of us have been on the front lines of such battles and understand that what we are doing in Davis is a single–but important–step in dealing with a key source of a major health epidemic.

      4. Tia Will

        Mark

        For a public health professional to make that claim would, in my opinion, be both unprofessional and fraudulent.”

        I disagree not only with this statement, but also with your seeming premise that public health improvements either happen on a massive scale all at once, or they do not happen at all. Using this logic, women would never have gained access to highly effective, reversible contraception. Why?Because they were not universally available to begin with. But what you are not appreciating is that all healthy changes happen on the individual level first. Someone tries it, benefits from it, and spreads the word. As more people become aware of the individual successes of their friends and acquaintances, the demand increases for what ever the improvement happens to be.

        Within the past 10 years here in Davis, just in my own practice I went from maybe putting in one to two IUDs a month and rarely placing a Nexplanon despite providing copious information, education, advising and cajoling. And then, within the last couple of years, the tide turned as young women began hearing how great their friends and relatives found these methods to be. When I stopped that portion of my practice two months ago, I was averaging two to three of these devices daily by patient demand. While it is true that we do not know what will cause a better option to reach the tipping point, small changes really do make a difference whether you believe it or not.

        1. Mark West

          “But what you are not appreciating is that all healthy changes happen on the individual level first. Someone tries it, benefits from it, and spreads the word. As more people become aware of the individual successes of their friends and acquaintances, the demand increases for what ever the improvement happens to be.”

          No, I understand, appreciate and accept that all as fact.  My argument is over you and your public health brethren claiming that this local tax will provide a public health benefit.  It will not.

          Tia, I agree with the goal, I simply disagree with the approach. This is a proposed new tax, not a public health initiative.  This has absolutely nothing to do with infant formula, contraceptives, or any of the other justifications that have been put forward. This is a consumption tax being justified by health claims made by public health professionals, that simply cannot be supported by the facts.

          It is not a step forward, it is a step nowhere, that distracts from the overall goal, but makes some feel like they are making a difference. I prefer to see our efforts put towards actually
          making a difference.

           

          1. David Greenwald

            “No, I understand, appreciate and accept that all as fact. My argument is over you and your public health brethren claiming that this local tax will provide a public health benefit. It will not.”

            This reminds me of the discussion over the plastic bag ban, which opponents were correct in part that a local ban wouldn’t make a huge difference, but miscalculated that the proliferation of local bans wore down the resistance of the state legislature to ultimately pass statewide legislation.

  11. Tia Will

    BP

    Thankfully in Bob Dunning we have one columnist in town that talks for the people”

    So your assertion is that liberals are not also part of “the people”? And you believe that liberals are arrogant !

  12. Matt Williams

    From Wikipedia …

    For every ten percent increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes, youth smoking rates overall drop about seven percent. This rate is also true amongst minorities and low income population smokers. The rates of calls to quitting hot-lines are directly related to cigarette tax hikes.

    Reading that, I can’t help but wonder why the proposed sugary beverage tax rate is so low  . . . if the goal is to improve the public health.

    1. Robb Davis

      Matt – Could you check my math here (seriously)

      Walmart in West Sacramento is selling 2 liters of Coke for 1.00 this weekend (found that online).  2 liters is approximately 67 ozs. That equals about 1.5 cents per oz.  The minimum proposed tax from the staff report is 1 cent per oz. That would make this 2.5 cents per oz or about 1.67 if the full amount were passed on (it most likely will not be).  Let’s say 1/2 of it was passed on.  Early analysis in Berkeley suggests this is not unlikely.  So, a 2 liter bottle of Coke at Walmart would go to 2 cents per oz or $1.34.

      $1.34 compared to 1.00 would be a 34% increase.  Would it not?

      The maximum price I found in the area is $1.79 for two liters.  That is 2.7 cents per oz.  So let’s say half of the 1 cent per oz was passed on in this case.  That would make the coke 3.2 cents per oz or a two liter bottle would cost $2.14

      $2.14 compared to $1.79 would be a 19% increase.

      Thus, the actual percent increase would depend on the base price but increases between 19 and 34% are what we are talking about.

      So if the elasticities of demand were the same for coke as for cigarettes then we could be looking at about a 15-30% decrease in consumption for SSB.

      1. Matt Williams

        Robb, I can’t remember the last time I purchased soda in a bottle with a liter or more capacity.  It definitely wasn’t here in California, so that means since 1998.  As I said to David, it would be interesting to see the sales volume by container size.

        1. Robb Davis

          Absolutley.  The people pushing this, including some very well-educated, do not seem to understand real comsumer behavior.  Or else they just don’t care and want to feel good about doing “something”

          Frankly, I wish you would stop saying things like this.  If you go back to the myriad arguments I made during the CFD you will know that I understand FULLY how elasticities work.  I was using rough numbers as an approximation to respond to Matt’s point.  The reality is I have looked at the literature on the effects of SSB tax measures on behavior and the empirical evidence to date is simply not there.  For that reason, looking at the effects of other such taxes is instructive.  One simulation suggested that 20% tax would have an effect (am still trying to get the background paper on that assertion–it is behind a paywall).  Another assessed very low taxes (6%) and found them ineffective.  But we are talking about a tax that will (effectively) be more than that.

          I have noted several times over that a tax in Davis is part of a larger set of efforts to bring change.  I have made it clear that a tax here will not accomplish the goal but is part of a process. How do I know that?  Because that is how public policy change occurs.  There is no “magic bullet” and you build momentum through many actions over time.

          So I take strong offense that you continue to call this “feel good.”  That is rubbish.  Your lack of respect and open disdain for my professional experience in this field troubles me.  I don’t routinely come on here and trash your business acumen and your knowledge of how that field works.  Why the continued disrespect for my experience in this field?

          (And by the way, my reference to West Sacramento Mark was merely to get a localized price point.  I realize that Davis tax does not extend there.  I also realize that for many purchases of SSB–with food orders or in a grab and go convenience store–West Sac or Woodland to not represent viable purchasing substitutions (if they want a SSB).  That is, a person is not going to pop into a convenience store in downtown, see the price of a coke is 20 cents more than in Woodland and drive there to save the 20 cents.  Nor are they, at Carl’s Jr, going to order their meal but drive to Woodland to buy their drink.  For certain SSB purchases they either decide to pay more or not buy it.)

        2. Frankly

          I think you are thinking in terms of solving problem with the tools you are used to using even if those tools are inappropriate or sub-optimized for the problem at hand.  Sometimes a lot of experience with something can be a handicap preventing a full-accounting of the problem and its potential solutions.

          Other than my general dislike of nanny government policy, this is my basic problem here.

          And since Davis does not have a real problem with obesity nor diabetes, just like Davis did not have a real problem with plastic bags, given the extent of our local problems, I reject this use of CC and staff time just like I rejected the same for plastic bags.  That is the “feel good” point in a nutshell.  I think the CC and staff should stop looking into all the neighbors yards for problems to solve when their own house is such a mess.

        3. Frankly

          I was just thinking…

          The business ruling class knows money and tends to promote education as a solution.

          The government ruling class knows education and tends to promote monetary controls as a solution.

          Seems that both groups should stick to their own sandbox.

      2. Mark West

        Walmart in West Sacramento would not be impacted by this proposed tax, so the price will remain the same.

        Let us assume for the sake of argument that the elasticities of demand are identical between coke and cigarettes, the only buyers who will be impacted by the increase in price are those who are unable to shop outside of Davis.  All others will feel no change since their price will be the same as before the tax was implemented.  If you want to have any meaningful impact on demand, you need to have the tax increase cover the entire shopping area for the population of interest.

        1. Don Shor

          I also doubt that many stores in Davis are selling 2-liter bottles at loss-leader pricing. I seriously doubt this tax will significantly reduce consumption. It’s not so much the percentage increase; retailers know there are key price points that affect purchasing behavior. Elasticity is more complicated than just a linear relationship between price and demand.
          This is a revenue measure.

        2. Matt Williams

          Don Shor said . . .  “This is a revenue measure.”

          Given that the Utility Users Tax appears to have lost its steam, and the Transient Occupancy Tax generates so little revenue ($130,000 to $260,000 per year at the level that Lucas Frerichs referenced from the dais), and Parcel Taxes throughout California are facing serious Split Roll question marks, the only tax with serious revenue generating potential is the sugary beverage tax.

           

        3. Frankly

          Elasticity is more complicated than just a linear relationship between price and demand.This is a revenue measure.

          Absolutley.  The people pushing this, including some very well-educated, do not seem to understand real comsumer behavior.  Or else they just don’t care and want to feel good about doing “something”

        4. Matt Williams

          David Greenwald said . . . “But the sugary beverage tax would not go for infrastructure.”

          Has that been determined?  If so where is that determination documented?  How will any tax, including a sugary beverage tax, comply with the FBS advisory from Monday, which Rochelle made as a Council motion on Tuesday?

          1. David Greenwald

            Determined by whom? The people pushing the tax have outlined where they think the revenue should go and while the council can make their own decision on that, if they want the help of the activists they are more limited.

        5. Matt Williams

          David, the simple answer to your question is, “Determined by someone who has the authority to make that determination.”  In this case City Council . . . or in the form of a Staff proposal in advance of a Council determination.

  13. tribeUSA

    Has anyone noticed that the following foods have added sugar:

    Most Breads

    Most Crackers

    Most Peanut butter

    Frozen dinner meals (main course, not dessert), including meat-based meals

    Many fruit juices (especially the ‘cocktails’)

    Other common food staples

    It’s difficult to find such foods without added sugar–there is no need for added sugar in any of these foods, and as a country most of us are overdosing on sugar, since it is present in so many commonly eaten ‘nonsweet’ food staples.

    For the holidays, I am being sure to eat no-sugar or low-sugar foods, so I can then enjoy some Christmas cookies and other holiday treats without overdosing on sugar (my blood-sugar level was diagnosed at 115 (?mg/dl?) a few years ago, which is now considered in ‘pre-diabetic’ range, so I have been trying to avoid sweetened foods; but its not easy as so many common food staples have completely unnecessary added sugar).

    1. Frankly

      There are three root causes.

      1. Ignorance of the health risks for continued comsumption of carbohydrates in execess of what is metabolized.

      2. Ignorance of healthy eating habbits.

      3. Lack of self-control

      Questions?

      – Do you agree with this?  If not, please elaborate.

      1. KSmith

        Subsidies to the Big Corn lobby, so their excess crops are made into high-fructose corn syrup that ends up being put in almost every food product (as tribeUSA points out above with added sugars being in products that it has no business being in).

        I guess you could say this falls under your #3 (people could refuse to buy these products), but why do we tolerate over $4 billion dollars each year (http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/when-a-crop-becomes-king/) being spent on corn subsidies when we don’t need this horrendous amount of high-fructose corn syrup to be produced each year?

  14. hpierce

    Everyone knows most fast food companies are owned by beverage companies, right?  Look at how much of your ‘fast food’ costs, compared to your drink… [it’s not a ‘loss leader’, it’s a driver]  I frequent FF places, am very lean, not pre/actual diabetic (according to my Kaiser doctor), and my beverage of choice is iced tea.

    Oh, and ~ every six months, get a ‘hankering’ for chocolate chip cookies, indulge, and seem to be nothing the worse for wear…

    Make of that what you will…

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Do you agree with this?  If not, please elaborate.”

         

        No, I don’t agree for several reasons. You have left out some factors and over simplified others.

        1. You left out lack of easy accessibility and/or higher cost of healthier choices.

        2. Your choice of words ” lack of self control” is an over simplification and quite a telling one at that. “Lack of self control” would seem to imply that if one simply exerts enough “will power” that they can choose to just stop any undesirable behavior. What you are missing here is that we have an entire generation of children that have been affected in utero and thus have been physiologically primed to have an increased risk of obesity/ diabetes. We know this because infants of gestational diabetic women are macrocosmic ( weighing over 9 lbs at birth) at higher rates than those of non diabetic mothers. These children have a higher lifetime risk of Type II diabetes. Their risk factor began well before they had any ability to exert “self control”.

        Now take this same predisposed child, and put them in a family in which ( for whatever reason) poor eating habits ( fast food with accompanying soda) is the norm and now you have created an individual predisposed and conditioned to 1. See this style of eating as the norm 2. Be physiologically primed to crave these substances 3. Be emotionally primed to seek out these substances. All occurring before that individual has any choice in the matter.

        Add to this the fact that this individual lives in a society where the advertising of these unhealthful substances is ubiquitous. On the street in the form of billboards, on TV, in  movie theaters ( which actually ban bringing in one’s more healthful choice). Add to that the reflexive naysayers constantly telling the public that if the health care community does not get every fact correct the first time a recommendation is made, that they shouldn’t be listened to at all.

        Now we tolerate all kinds of misleading information from the manufacturers and distributors of these harmful products done in the name of commerce, but seek to limit information and ideas about how to improve public health( granted limited and subject to change as all scientifically based evidence is) from individuals concerned  with the deterioration of public health that we have seen over our years of direct involvement in individual and public health.

         

         

        1. Frankly

          Thanks for this Tia.  I think it is a well-done counter view. However, other than the potential physiological and phycological imprinting and still-yet unproven genetic disposition to crave sweets, much of what you have written above is explained by the three root causes I provided.

          I will certain agree with you on one point… that marketers of soda and other “food” products that are easier to over-consume and cause health problems should be required to footnote their products in advertising and packaging similar to how drug manufacturers are.  I see this as helping to solve the root cause of ignorance… in the solution category of providing better education.

           

        2. hpierce

          Frankly (because you are), am thinking you have a much more constructive idea about concerns about the sugary sodas/diabetes situation… labelling… and if we still tax, makes me no never-mind… am not a ‘consumer’, except 1, maybe two times a year… I’d dislike getting taxed on my unsweetened iced tea, though…

  15. Davis Progressive

    i think robb davis nailed here on several fronts.

     

    first of all, as has been pointed out, by taxing at one cent per ounce, it’s a lot higher impact at a usual purchased quantity.  people don’t purchase most of their drinks in the form of a can.  they will buy a two liter bottle or a twelve pack.  that’s where most of the sale/ discount prices are.

     

    second, as robb says, “I have made it clear that a tax here will not accomplish the goal but is part of a process. How do I know that?  Because that is how public policy change occurs.  There is no “magic bullet” and you build momentum through many actions over time.”  every time a reform proposal comes up, the naysayers argue that it won’t fix the problem.  but you know what doesn’t fix the problem – doing nothing.  you know what else doesn’t fix the problem?  waiting for another agency to act.  usually we see these reforms filter from the local levels up and builds motemtum because we can see the effects and it reduces the boogey-man theory.

     

    third, as robb says, “So I take strong offense that you continue to call this “feel good.”  That is rubbish.  Your lack of respect and open disdain for my professional experience in this field troubles me.”  this is an important point as well.  feels good implies that it is cosmetic, easy and doesn’t work.  well the industry disagrees obviously because they are pumping in money to make it a hard choice but also to show us that this has teeth.  the industry didn’t come in on the children’s menu issue, they did on that.  that should tell us something.

    1. Matt Williams

      Davis Progressive . . . “people don’t purchase most of their drinks in the form of a can”

      Do you have any supporting evidence for that statement?  Drinks purchased in the form of a can or a bottle are almost always for individual consumption.  Drinks purchased in large bottles are almost always for consumption by groups of people . . . multiple servings for multiple people.  In addition, large bottles can’t be carried around when a person is exercising.   Parents in the 25-54 year-old demographic make sense as purchasers of large bottles because of any children they have.  I susect that in the vast majority of cases when those same parents become empty nesters they stop buying large bottles.  The same is true of 25-54 year-olds who have no children.  I could be wrong, but I believe large bottles make no practical sense for well over 50% of the Davis population.

  16. Davis Progressive

    frankly:

    i’m calling you out.  i don’t think you know what you’re talking about…

    “And since Davis does not have a real problem with obesity nor diabetes, just like Davis did not have a real problem with plastic bags, given the extent of our local problems, I reject this use of CC and staff time just like I rejected the same for plastic bags.”

     

    davis doesn’t have a real problem with obesity or diabetes?  prove it.  i don’t believe you.  prove it.  i want to see you back this statement up or admit you’re talking out of your donkey!

    1. hpierce

      Well… calling you out, back…. what evidence can you present that a high percentage of Davis residents are obese and/or diabetic/pre-diabetic?  I’m guessing, based my encounters with folk, can’t be much over 5%, if that… of course, we need to define”obesity”… 5 pounds [and based on what?]? ‘Morbidly obese’?  “Voluptuous”?  “Big boned”?

      I agree that “Davis doesn’t have a real problem with obesity/diabetes”… there are members of the community who suffer from one or both… some genetically, some by poor dietary choices, very few (miniscule?) from ‘sugary drinks’…

       

  17. Tia Will

    hpierce

    I’m not DP, but I do have evidence.

    Most of the women who obtain their prenatal care in Kasier Davis are residents of Davis. We do have a few from Woodland and a few from West Sac but the majority live in Davis. The last time I looked at the numbers, about 1-2 years ago, the number of overweight ( BMI 25-30) and obese (BMI 30 and above ) was about one third. While this is not the 1/2 that I quoted for the entire North Valley Kaiser, it is far from a trivial number although we do tend to be a little healthier here than regionally.

    Now consider that most of these women will gain 30+ lbs during their pregnancy and some will gain considerably more. This will push the majority of these women into a BMI of 30 or over. Now consider that very few women, I would say less than 25 % lose back to their pre-pregnancy weight, and will stair step up their weight with each succeeding pregnancy, and you can see that even here in Davis, we are not talking about a few outliers.

     

    1. hpierce

      ok… how many of those women were overweight due to sugary drinks?  How many genetically?  How many of over-consumption of fatty diets?  Your response is un-responsive…

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I can understand how you could think that since you are not in my office with me when I do dietary counseling, nor do you see the women coming in carrying their sodas on a hot day ! One of the consistent patterns that I see is that women of all ages obsess about what they eat, but commonly do not even think about the contribution of their drinks whether sodas or juices or alcohol to their weight management problems. I do not say this casually. I say it from 30 years of experience. And women in Davis are no different in this regard than women in Sacramento or Santa Clara or Fontana.

        1. Barack Palin

          nor do you see the women coming in carrying their sodas on a hot day !

          And how often does that happen Tia Will?  You even had to put an exclamation point behind it.  I’ve been to the doctor’s office many times and can’t remember ever seeing anyone walking around or in the waiting areas with a soda.  I’m sure it’s happened a few times but hardly the norm.  All this trumped up sensationalism gets tiring.  I’m going to call my son who’s also an OB/GYN and ask him how often he ever sees this.

  18. Alan Miller

    First, I think Bob Dunning is hilarious and y’all need to wear looser knickers.  Second, I think Tia was both brave and entertaining in her testimony and from a medical standpoint gets the health risk and is good at espousing it.  Third, I think a tax is disconnected, slightly-effective-at-best, misguided, flat-out insane and ignores the overall issue.  Fourth, I just pissed everyone off.  Happy holidays.

  19. Barack Palin

    Third, I think a tax is disconnected, slightly-effective-at-best, misguided, flat-out insane and ignores the overall issue. 

    I think you hit the nail on the head.  But our local activists are on a mission so it will most likely make the ballot, we’ll have to shoot it down from there.

    1. Matt Williams

      BP, which of the other alternative taxes would you prefer?  The ones that have recently been on the table are:

      — Parcel Tax
      — Utility Users Tax
      — Transient Occupancy Tax
      — Sweetened Beverage Tax
      — Sales Tax

      If you can’t answer that straightforward question, then I suspect you are tied up in nots.

      1. Barack Palin

        My first choice that is we get our finances more under control but knowing it will never happen:

        TOT…jack it up as much as possible….when someone is attending a conference, on vacation or just visiting a few extra bucks isn’t going to deter them from staying in a Davis hotel.

        Sales tax….because everyone has to pay it and those with more wealth tend to buy more therefore paying more of the tax.

        I could get on board for a Sweetened beverage tax but only if the money is used for our roads and infrastructure and nothing else.

        I like taxation where everyone has some skin in the game and it doesn’t just fall strictly on homeowners.  I feel the UUT is unfair in that people that have solar will get a big break over those that don’t.

        On all three of these taxes there should be something in place that guarantees (as much as possible) that our council doesn’t spend the money on wages so that way they won’t get all tied up in “nots” trying to figure out ways to give it to employees.

         

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          You do realize that the soda tax is a sales tax, right ? It is just one that people can easily opt out of if they decide not to buy that particular item …..just like every other sales tax.

        2. Barack Palin

          No kidding.  But it’s a draconian sales tax aimed at one product in a weak attempt at social engineering, not an across the board sales tax.

          But I’ll get onboard if the tax is used only for our roads and infrastructure.  How about it Tia?

           

           

        3. Barack Palin

          so to conservatives like barack palin, poor people are “lazy” and measures seeking to improve health are “social engineering”

          Not saying that at all, at least that’s not what I meant, rich people, middle class people and poor people can all be lazy when it comes to buying and preparing a nutritional meal.  Heck, I often get lazy and stop and get fast food instead of cooking a good meal.

          And yes, when liberal activists advocate for putting extra taxes on a product to try and get people to use less of it it’s indeed ‘social engineering’.

        4. Matt Williams

          BP, thanks for that response.  I’m not as pessimistic about your first choice, but understand both your frustration and pessimism … given that my own frustration with that same issue is the primary reason (by a mile) that I am running for Council.  Like any normal household, the City has to pay its bills, and one look at the condition of our streets and other capital infrastructure tells us that we haven’t been doing that for quite a while.

          The  first step in paying our bills is actually knowing what your bills are, and the Finance and Budget Commission is working hard with staff to make that happen in the next 60 days.  It has been a long process because there is lots of catch-up to do, but there is real progress.  Once we know “what we owe” then we can put that into a larger picture that also includes the City’s ongoing operating expenses.

          I think your ranking of the fairness of the taxes makes a lot of sense.

      2. Topcat

        BP, which of the other alternative taxes would you prefer?

        Rather than just assuming that we have to raise taxes, how about looking at cutting expenses?  I’m not saying that we can do everything we want to by only cutting expenses, but there seems to be a reluctance to even consider expense reduction as a possibility.

        1. Matt Williams

          Topcat, I won’t copy and paste my 8:40 response to BP  here, but it applies as an answer to your question as well.  What you have described is straightforward Fiscal Responsibility.  We need to stop spending money that we don’t have . . . and spend the money that we do have wisely.

    2. Tia Will

      Alan and BP

      And I think that both of you are choosing to ignore the evidence provided by the effect of the tax on cigarettes on people’s declining usage ( as witnessed by many, many patient’s telling me that cost was a factor they considered, along with others, in their decision to quit) simply because you are philosophically opposed to taxes for this reason and therefore are willing to throw up any and all arguments against it hoping something sticks ! My evidence ?

      My evidence ?

      Note how Alan has moved from useless to “slightly effective at best”. And since when is something that is “slightly effective” insane ?  Given how well the efforts to date have worked, I will take slightly effective as an improvement. If I improve the lifetime neurologic effects on one prematurely delivered baby because mom was diabetic, I will count that as a success.  I can only assume that neither of you are in the medical field from your responses. So I suspect that neither of you has developed an appreciation for just how much difference a “slight effect” can have on the life of one individual, their family, to say nothing of the overall costs to our community.

  20. Tia Will

    BP

    First a question ?  Is this tax too small to have any effect ?  Or is it draconian ? I am unsure how it can be both.

    But I’ll get onboard if the tax is used only for our roads and infrastructure.  How about it Tia?”

    I have already answered this question. I do not favor it going for roads since I consider discretionary car usage a major part of our unhealthy lifestyle. I would be fully on board for specification for usage for greenbelts, pools and parks, and other health promoting infrastructure.

    1. Barack Palin

      Is this tax too small to have any effect ?  Or is it draconian ?

      It’s too small to have an effect on people who are going to most likely buy the product anyway but it’s draconian when you compare it to our current sales tax.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        on people who are going to most likely buy the product anyway”

        And how would you be knowing that in advance ?

        I didn’t stop making this purchase until in my 50’s, but I did stop. And by my most recent numbers am so longer in the pre-diabetic range. And that was the only significant change I made.

        1. Davis Progressive

          increasing costs may slow down the intake – especially for people who are living on the margins of their income anyway, but the bigger factor is going to be how we use the program.

  21. Tia Will

    BP

    And how often does that happen Tia Will”

    Multiiple times daily during the summer months. Just because you haven’t noticed something does not mean it is not happening. I suspect there are several reasons why you do not notice, but I do. One is that it is my job to notice factors that may be contributing to the issues that women bring to me, while I doubt it is your job to do so. The second reason is, I believe, possibly of greater importance. Walking around with one’s beverage of choice be it coffee or soda or a water bottle is now so common in our society that we simply do not notice, any more than we notice whether a woman is carrying a purse or not. If we have no need to see, we simply do not register.

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