Soda taxes were on the ballot in 4 cities on November 8th. The fact that these measures were even there is meaningful: Every time soda is discussed as a public health issue, people are reminded that the evidence tying them to obesity, diabetes and heart disease is piling up. Fifty million dollars were spent on persuasion efforts according to the New York Times, with Big Soda -- opposing the tax -- heavily outspending the tax supporters.
Yet the citizens voted for the tax in all 4 cities; San Francisco, Oakland, Albany CA, and Boulder CO will join Philadelphia and Berkeley, who passed such measures recently.
The anti-soda movement is gathering momentum.
Sugary drinks linked to autoimmune diabetes, too
Sweetened beverages are linked with type 2 diabetes – where typically, the body becomes resistant to insulin.
A new study now finds that drinking soda is also associated with autoimmune diabetes – in which the immune system destroys the pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin, and therefore causes a state in which the body doesn’t produce the critical hormone. The Swedish study, found that 2 drinks of sweetened beverages doubled the risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) – which is an adult onset autoimmune mediated diabetes, with features similar to type 1 diabetes -- and this was regardless of whether the drinks had caloric or non-caloric sweeteners. And in this study, there was a dose-response relationship: the more sugary drinks, the greater the risk of diabetes.
Industry sponsored confusion
In the face of growing evidence warning us about the harms of sugary drinks the beverage industry fights back by spreading confusion.
A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that of 60 studies looking at the relationship between soft drinks and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, the majority, and all those that were led by independent researchers found a link. When the study didn’t find a link that study was always conducted by researchers with financial ties to the soft drink industry.
The researchers, from University of California San Francisco, led by Dean Schillinger, warn:
“This industry seems to be manipulating contemporary scientific processes to create controversy and advance their business interests at the expense of the public's health.”
Industry-sponsored studies create the feeling that soda’s harmful effects are controversial, when in fact, pretty much all experts in the field and independent researchers claim otherwise.
Nevertheless, soft drinks are in continuous decline, that, despite ever increasing spending on marketing and soda tax opposition.
Full disclosure: I co-founded Herbal Water, which makes organic herb-infused waters that have zero calories and no sugar or artificial ingredients. I’m also a pediatrician and have been promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for many years.