Tag Archives SSB

Four consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that BA Sports Nutrition's BodyArmor SuperDrink sports drinks are "unlawfully fortified junk food." Silver v. BA Sports Nutrition LLC, No. 20-0633 (N.D. Cal., filed January 28, 2020). "BodyArmor does not provide 'superior' or 'better' hydration to Plaintiffs and other consumers than other beverages, nor are the Plaintiffs or the general public hydration deficient and/or in need of its characteristics to replenish them from dehydration," the complaint asserts. The plaintiffs argue that BodyArmor is a sugar-sweetened beverage "that scientifically links to serious medical conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, when regularly consumed." They allege that they "would not have purchased BodyArmor, purchased as much of it, or paid as much for it, had they understood that consumption does not provide them with a drink comprised of natural ingredients and/or that was more, natural, better for them than other drinks."…

A Washington, D.C., Council member, with the support of seven other members, has introduced a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) that would replace a sales tax that took effect in early October 2019 with an excise tax applied to SSB manufacturers. According to a press release, the Healthy Beverage Choices Act of 2019 "repeals the existing 8% sales tax on sugary drinks (passed in 2010 and raised in 2019) and creates a new 1.5 cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks in the District," shifting the added cost from appearing "at the register" to appearing "on the price tag." The proposed tax would fund parks and healthy eating advocacy programs.

A U.K. modeling study has apparently found that a 20% tax on foods with high levels of sugar could reduce rates of obesity more than taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Scheelbeek et al., "Potential impact on prevalence of obesity in the UK of a 20% price increase in high sugar snacks: modelling study," BMJ, September 4, 2019. The study model predicted the effects of a 20% price increase on "three categories of high sugar snacks: confectionery (including chocolate), [cookies], and cakes." The model reportedly showed that the price increase would cause average Body Mass Index numbers for U.K. residents to decrease by 0.53. "This change could reduce the UK prevalence of obesity by 2.7 percentage points," the researchers assert.

French researchers have published a study in BMJ purportedly finding that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) "was significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer" while the "consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was not associated with the risk of cancer." Chazelas et al., "Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort," BMJ, July 10, 2019. The researchers tracked the SSB consumption—including soft drinks, syrups, juices, hot beverages, sports drinks and energy drinks—of 101,257 participants through "repeated 24 hour dietary records" for periods between five and nine years. The results apparently showed that an increased consumption of 100% fruit juice "was positively associated with overall cancer rate" while the "association between sugar sweetened soda specifically and cancer rate was borderline non-significant." BMJ also published an opinion piece responding to Boris Johnson's assertion that he may review the effectiveness of U.K. SSB and other "stealth sin" taxes…

Vox Media's podcast The Impact has examined New York City's and Chicago's approaches to combating obesity, including Chicago's imposition of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). A reporter first speaks to employees of an initiative in New York that encourages corner-store owners to stock more healthy foods, and she finds that the results have been middling. The podcast then turns to Chicago's tax on SSBs, which was enforced for two months before it was repealed. "The Cook County soda tax became so toxic that nobody wants to talk about it anymore," the reporter reveals. "This was by far the hardest episode of our season to report because people kept turning down my interview requests. I asked six different county commissioners to talk to me for this story. Five of them said no." "Right now, there isn't great evidence that healthy corner store initiatives have a big impact on obesity. There's…

Washington voters have reportedly approved a ballot measure that will prevent the state legislature from implementing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). The measure will not repeal Seattle's tax but will prevent other local governments within the state from imposing new SSB taxes. A similar initiative in Oregon failed to pass; critics of the measure reportedly argued that the language could be broadly construed to apply beyond groceries to food served in restaurants.

Nielsen has announced the results of a survey of U.K. consumers comparing opinions about sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) before and after the country's SSB tax took effect in April 2018, finding "minimal impact on consumer behaviour." The survey reportedly found that 62 percent of consumers "claim to have not changed their consumption behaviour in any way post-sugar tax, and only one fifth are checking sugar content on packages more frequently since the tax has come into effect." Further, 11 percent of consumers indicated that they would stop drinking SSBs before the tax took effect, but that number has dropped to one percent. "The number of people who said they would continue to buy sugary soft drinks also, surprisingly, grew post-tax, increasing from 31% in February to 44% in June," Nielsen's press release states.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling upholding Philadelphia’s tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), holding that the tax is not preempted by state law. Williams v. Philadelphia, Nos. 2 EAP 2018, 3 EAP 2018 (Pa., entered July 18, 2018). The 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax, which took effect in January 2017, applies to SSB distributors rather than buyers and thus does not duplicate consumer sales tax, the court held.

The American Heart Association, Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition have filed a lawsuit to appeal and amend the ballot title and summary of an initiative that would ban Washington's local governments from levying new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). In re Ballot Title & Summary for Initiative No. 1634, No. 18-2-01924-34 (Wash. Super. Ct., filed April 9, 2018). The petition alleges that after Seattle's SSB tax took effect January 1, 2018, beverage industry groups filed the initiative in an attempt to stop other jurisdictions from adopting similar taxes. The petition also alleges that the ballot title and summary are “misleading and prejudicial” because they purport to ban new taxes on "groceries," a measure that the advocacy groups predict would be “disfavored” by voters.

The Ninth Circuit has granted an en banc rehearing of its September 2017 decision to block a San Francisco ordinance requiring health warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on the grounds that it unduly burdened and chilled speech protected by the First Amendment. Am. Beverage Ass’n. v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, No. 16-16072 (9th Cir., entered January 29, 2018). The September ruling overturned a 2016 district court decision determining that the city’s interest in public health and safety was a reasonable basis to enforce the ordinance, which required black-box warning labels on all advertising for SSBs that could take up as much as 20 percent of the advertising space. In addition, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to Philadelphia’s SSB tax that claims the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax violates state law; the challengers allege that because the tax is levied on distributors and ultimately borne by…

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