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Phil Matier: Sugary Beverages Cost SF Millions In Health Care Expenses

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A new report from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and Legislative Analyst has found that the consumption of sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages costs San Francisco residents millions in health care expenses.

The budget analyst report was requested by San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, and looked at the health risks associated with high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, the long-term financial risks that San Francisco and its residents face due to related health care costs, and policies that other cities have explored and implemented to mitigate the impact.

Phil Matier: Report Shows Sugary Beverages Cost SF Millions In Health Costs

The results were fairly wide-ranging –looking at how the consumption of sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages has affected the rates of obesity and diabetes, the rate of obesity in San Francisco, and estimating the costs for treating people who are obese or have diabetes.

The report found that the range of costs incurred by the obese and diabetic populations in San Francisco that are attributable to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is between $48 and $61 million dollars, though a portion of those costs would be paid through insurance.

This comes as Mar and fellow supervisor Scott Wiener have proposed similar ballot measures that would tax sugary drinks. While there are slight differences between each proposal, they have said they will combine the two ideas and hope to put one measure on the ballot before voters.

Budget Report Looks At Costs Associated With Sugary Drinks In San Francisco

San Francisco is just the latest city to attempt to pass this type of legislation, with voters in several other cities, including Richmond and El Monte in Southern California, voting down legislation in the past two years.

Part of the reason taxes like the one proposed by Mar and Wiener have struggled in other cities is because of "Big Soda." Like the tobacco and oil industry in the past, the American Beverage Association and other food industry groups are already preparing to mount a huge advertising campaign to squash the effort.

"Big Soda" spent $2.5 million to defeat the proposal in Richmond and another $1.3 million against the ballot measure in El Monte. Officials with the American Beverage Association have not commented on how much they might spend in San Francisco.

You can hear Phil Matier's comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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