By Max Anderson
Big Soda is spending millions of dollars to defeat Measure D. What is your personal connection to this issue?
Long before Big Soda decided to lay siege to any community that dared oppose its unhealthy crusade to saturate our communities with cloyingly sweet beverages and its billion dollar ad campaigns, my family suffered the ravages of diabetes.
My mother died at the age of 57 from complications of diabetes, including kidney disease and blindness. Every one of her four children has suffered from the disease.
Diabetes has cast a swath of disease and disability across a larger and larger demographic of families in this country and beyond.
The principle purveyors of this epidemic are the giant soda companies and their stockholders who prey upon the youngest and most vulnerable among us — costing us billions of dollars in healthcare, and leaving in its wake the damaged bodies and broken lives of more and more families.
The scientific evidence of the connection between sugary drinks and disease are legion and unshakable. Even big soda dares not contest the evidence.
As you just noted, Big Soda spends little time or money denying the health risks of sugary drinks. Instead, most of their attack on D is to raise wording issues. As a health professional, can you address the issues at stake?
Here is the connection between sugary drinks and disease:
- Increased consumption of liquid sugar is causing, not just correlated to, epidemic levels of metabolic diseases, most notably Type 2 Diabetes Melitus;
- Robert Lustig, UCSF pediatrician, describes liquid sugar as a chronic toxin when consumed in excess. A 12 ounce can of soda is too much for any child to consume, and causes liver damage.
Dr. Lustig said: “Due to sugar consumption, our children are getting the same diseases as adult alcoholics.”
- Health community professionals and nutritionists agree that the reduction in consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is central to curbing the incidence and prevalence of diabetes among children.
- Eliminating diabetes among children must be the focus of our efforts.
Berkeley seems remarkably united in the face of this well financed negative corporate media campaign. What is at stake for Berkeley and nationally if Measure D is passed by the voters here?
The Yes On D campaign is endorsed by every elected official and every candidate running for office in Berkeley. Our community is remarkably united on this issue. The Ecology Center, Healthy Black Families, League of Women Voters (Berkeley, Albany & Emeryville), Berkeley NAACP, Latinos Unidos de Berkeley and the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club are among the many organizations supporting Yes on D.
It is within our power to establish a much more promising and healthy future for our children and our community. The corporations behind big soda care only about profits, and have no interest in the health of our children and our communities.
We must stem the tide of diabetes, obesity and heart disease by taking this first significant step of leveling a 1 cent per ounce tax on the distributors of sugary drinks. In doing so, we will have begun to reassert the rights and responsibilities of our communities to end the corporate control of our families and our neighborhoods.
Max Anderson is a member of the Berkeley City Council, District 3.