Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) has announced his intent to introduce, in the 2019 legislative session, a health impact fee on sugar sweetened beverages. The fee would be used to fund obesity and diabetes prevention programs. Bloom’s announcement followed a press conference in which the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association announced their goal to introduce a similar ballot measure in 2020.

“The overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages has led to a staggering rise in obesity and diabetes in California,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Low income communities, communities of color, and children have been targeted by the soda industry and are facing increasingly dire health outcomes. We can’t wait until 2020. We need to act now.”

Soda and other sugar sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet, and are linked to increased risk of diabetes and other diseases, like heart and liver disease, obesity, and tooth decay. Studies have shown that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in California has jumped 50 percent between 2001 and 2012. Unless the trend is reversed, one in three of our children born after 2000 – and half of Latino and African American children – will go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes. Today, over half of Californians suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes; most of those diagnosed with pre-diabetes will go on to develop diabetes in their lifetime. Moreover, the California obesity rate has skyrocketed from nine percent in 1984 to over 25 percent today and is projected to increase to 47 percent by 2030.

Both obesity and diabetes are associated with, and often lead to, a number of other adverse health outcomes including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure, and tooth decay. These preventable diseases cost the state tens of billions of dollars annually in healthcare costs. Diabetes, in particular, is now the most expensive chronic condition in the country in terms of personal health care spending and those with diabetes spend over twice as much on medical expenditures as those without.

Richard Bloom represents California’s 50th Assembly District, which comprises the communities of Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Topanga, West Hollywood, and West Los Angeles.

Submitted by Nardos Girma, Office of Assemblyman Richard Bloom