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OVERVIEW. On September 17, 2009, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released the report, Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California. This landmark study provides important scientific evidence of the direct contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to California's $41 billion obesity epidemic.

Commissioned by CCPHA, the study reports geographic variations in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children, adolescents, and adults and examines the correlation between soda consumption and obesity. Data came from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which interviewed more than 43,000 adults and 4,000 adolescents from every county in the state. The study was conducted by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research For background information, see the Press Release, Press Release (Spanish), and Press Kit. Video Interviews and B-roll Downloads and Audio Interview Downloads are available.  Numerous spokespersons are familiar with the study.  Summary information is available from the Policy Brief and fact sheets describing adult soda consumption and overweight and obesity for each county, soda consumption for all age groups for each county, and soda consumption for all age groups for selected cities.  For 95% confidence intervals in consumption rates click here.

FINDINGS. The study found that 41 percent of children (ages 2 - 11), 62 percent of adolescents (ages 12 - 17) and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Regardless of income or ethnicity, adults who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages every day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. Soda consumption rates vary from county to county and city to city, with dramatic variations between some counties and some cities.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS. Cities, counties, businesses, health care providers, religious organizations, the state legislature, and Congress - and each of us as individuals - can help reduce consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages and their contribution to California’s obesity epidemic. Actions that can be taken are included on this list of policy recommendations.

MEDIA COVERAGE AND IMPACT. Following release of the study, State Senator Alex Padilla, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes, called for expert hearings about the link between soda consumption and obesity, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will introduce soda fee legislation this fall. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom was particularly motivated to move forward with his soda fee legislation by Thursday's release of the study.  Here is a sample of the television coverage and front page newspaper coverage of the study, and here are links to some of the coverage:

Support for this project was provided by a grant from The California Endowment