CoCo Health: “Public Support Growing for Policies to Fight Childhood Obesity”

February 14, 2013 10:19 am · 40 comments

While childhood obesity rates remain high in parts of Contra Costa County, public health officials are encouraged by a survey released today that shows a majority of voters in Richmond and the state feel the issue is a serious problem that must be addressed.

According to a statewide Field-Poll, The California Endowment Childhood Obesity Prevention Survey, even after the beverage industry spent $3 million lobbying in Richmond, 66% of the voters in Richmond would support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages if the money is earmarked for improving school nutrition programs and expanding physical activity programs.

Additionally, 75% of statewide voters said that regularly drinking sodas like Coke or Pepsi increases a person’s chance of becoming overweight or obese.

“Obesity is endangering our children’s health and future and we know that sugary drinks are playing a significant role,” said Community Wellness and Prevention Program Manager Tracey Rattray with Contra Costa Health Services in a podcast released today. “People are noticing the ill effects of childhood obesity, like increased risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

Studies of Richmond and San Pablo by Contra Costa Health Services in 2011 found 52% of elementary school children were either overweight or obese. In addition, almost 80% of San Pablo residents and 75% of Richmond residents live within walking distance of a place that sells sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the studies.

“Our communities are saturated with outlets for sugar-sweetened beverages,” Rattray said. “What we’re seeing from this survey is a strong desire for healthful alternatives to sodas and junk foods, as well as opportunities for residents to be more physically active.”

The Field-TCE Survey found that statewide support for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages increases from 40% to 68% when proceeds are used to improve school nutrition and physical activity programs. Public Health Director Dr. Wendel Brunner with Contra Costa Health Services said that Sugar Sweetened Beverages are a major cause of the childhood obesity epidemic.

“The typical youth in Richmond and San Pablo consumes 150,000 calories a year of sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages alone,” Dr. Brunner said. “A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the money directed at programs to prevent childhood obesity, can be one effective way to combat this epidemic.”

To find out more about obesity in Contra Costa, visit

CW February 14, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I am very grateful that my parents limited sugary drinks to the occasional treat because I never acquired a taste for soda, unlike my hubby, who grew up drinking it every day. He switched to Coke Zero as an adult, but even without the calories I still don’t think it’s good for him to drink soda on a daily basis.

bduns February 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM

when calories consumed > calories burned, you get fat. What is so hard to understand about that?

Triple Canopy February 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Instead of more regulations, why not address parents’ responsibility for their kids’ diet, activity levels, and lifestyle.


Long time Reader February 14, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Instead of using the STATE LOTTERY MONEY to line the politicians pockets, why don’t we use it to bring back school sports and curricular activities? Thats why the people voted for the lottery to begin with.
I am not responsible for obesity except for myself. Hand to mouth is responsible. Why should I have to suffer because PARENTS don’t teach their kids good eating habits and such? I do not believe taxing soft drinks will stop the obesity problem. That will only make it worse. Teaching kids limitations will help the obesity problem. That and teaching them to exercise.

@Preserve the Smokestack February 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Bring on a Soda-Tax: $4 a can sounds about right.

PASTRON February 14, 2013 at 10:44 AM

@Triple Canopy – YES!

Jeff February 14, 2013 at 10:44 AM


Food Stamps? February 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Even the zero calorie diet sodas increase tooth decay and interfere with pancreatic function.
Great for the dentists, bad for the patients.
Just avoid artificial ingredients and chemicals in food and the world would be a better place. How much educating does that really take?

WHY DOES THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM still allow for purchase of sugar drinks, sugar infused “yogurt convenience packs” and all the snacks and junk out there?

Shuley February 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Policies? No. However, procedures and infrastructure could change.

As a retired chef (wow, 10 years have gone by) I have always abdicated a complete overhaul of our school Food an Nutrition departments. High schools cafeterias should be run by the students. A semester long class where the kids are cooking fresh meals for their fellow students. they learn nutrition, hard work and lifelong career skills while serving fresh less expensive food. Kids go to school to learn. so, serving them reheated chicken “nuggets” and canned crap is not the way to teach them healthy habits. Jamie Oliver could teach us a thing or two.

Anon777 February 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Triple Canopy – Hit the nail on the head. I resent that fact that these parents can’t take personal responsibility for their children. Why should I have to pay more for something because some douchebags don’t care about their kids health and now the government and mass public want us to pay for it. HELL NO!

Monty Abballo February 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Need a new tax? Just say, “But it’s for the kids.” Better yet, trot a few out when you’re asking.

BCuzItzClaycord..... February 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

An observation – why are these studies always done in Richmond/San Pablo??? Your county covers a large territory, the Monument Corridor is deemed “low income” by local officals but most of the studies focus on the Richmond area. Why are not some of the studies focused in Concord where they can benefit those living in Concord????

WC44 February 14, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Don’t the poll results support the obvious; Californian’s are basically dumb and gullible.

Gravitationally Challenged February 14, 2013 at 11:23 AM

They had the same crappy food and drinks in our schools back in the 80’s (zombies, yum!) yet there wasn’t a bunch of fat kids in school and we didn’t have this pathetic nanny state politics breathing down our throats. The kids are fat because technology. No one goes outside and plays anymore. We now have a 24/7 society where 99 cent cheeseburgers can be wolfed down with your 64 oz Rockstars. George Miller has been in charge the whole time so we know that poli-tricks is not the answer. HOW ABOUT PARENTS TEACHING THEIR KIDS TO STOP EATING LIKE PIGS!

David February 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Here’s the problem, people don’t take responsibility…so government steps in, and exploits it as an opportunity to raise taxes. Why would anyone ever agree to a tax without an explicit idea of how it would be allocated to help the problem. If you want better nutrition at school, pack your kid a lunch. Why do you need the government involved? If you think soda is so bad that you want it taxed, just stop buying it.

Jim February 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM

We let the governement decide what’s best for everyone…you know like Obama-care…here’s an idea….Let’s make drinking large sodas a crime like the “no burn law” and make it a crime ti drink a can of soda larger than 8 ozs, and we could fine them each time they drink a “large”…and then the county can hire someone who could drive and sround and look in everyone’s garbage for what the governemnt decides is too big and send them a ticket in the mail…then we could get neighbors to turn in their neighbors for the betterment of the whole society…think this can’t happen…it’s happen in the past just not here YET..they got cigarettes almost elimianted, they stop us from “burning”, they want us to buy battery operated cars, now they are on to sodas….we just keep giving away our freedoms and they just keep taking them…sad but this will not go away…it will be pushed and pushed…why is no one pushing bacK?

Atticus Thraxx February 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM

“66% of the voters in Richmond would support a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages”

That’s funny. I seem to remember this losing badly when put to a vote in Richmond. Makes me doubt the remaining statistics quoted.

“The typical youth in Richmond and San Pablo consumes 150,000 calories a year of sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages”

That’s 1000 12 ounce cans of 150 calorie Pepsi. That’s 2.7 cans per day, every day for 365 days. I’m sure some youths do that, but “typical”? I call bulls**t Dr. Wendal Brunner.

Mind you, 40% of your total cost is already taxed. I don’t drink that crap so I got no horse in this race.

Bob the Repairman February 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I’m sick and tired of these people telling me how to live my life. Now it soda. Add to the list of:
What light bulbs we have to use,
What toilet we have to install
What car we can drive
This is getting out of hand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Every hear of taking responsibility for yourself???????

Mac February 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

It shocks me how out of shape our kids are today.

I`m 53, and i play them at basketball.
And all i have to do, is play more then 2 games.
And the youngsters are winded, and are easy for even a old man to beat.

Back in the day, if a 53 year old guy wanted to shoot hoops with us.
We would have ran circles around him.
And have him asking to stop by the second game.

Now a days, the kids don`t play more then one game.
And half court at that.

Way too many video games.
But also there is not the things for them to do outside around here anymore.

We show pictures of the old days here in this area.
And all the things we did outside for fun.
It also kept us in shape.
We weren`t home playing video games, on our butts, drinking & eating.

It`s sad to see kids in this bad of shape at this age.
What kind of shape will they be in, when they are 25 ?

Most of the time they just want to play “horse” so they don`t have to run.

It`s sad how out of shape the middle school kids of today are

Gjets February 14, 2013 at 11:44 AM

start with dept admin leaders

CatWoman February 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

This is ridiculous–why create new laws when it’s the responsibility of the parents to raise their kids properly. Including what they eat. Albeit, when they get older, they will want to change their diet–but the basic principles will be instilled in them. No more taxes!

Gjets February 14, 2013 at 11:49 AM

CCC Dept. Heads are not leading by example, just look at yourself after you get out of the shower-disgusting, pathetic and a stroke is around the corner unless you have already had one. Start by putting down your muffins and leave your desk for the gym for once. If you cannot do at least 1 pullup what is the point of calling yourself a leader or a man.

Em Dubya February 14, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Why the heck does it take more taxes and rules to make the point that parents who feed kids junk, and allow them to be sedentary, results in fat kids?

What next – maybe a tax to pay for a study to understand whether bowling pins are likely to be found at bowling alleys?

mika February 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM

TOTALLY agreee w/poster above–why does the government allow EBT to buy chips, soda, cookies, and other junk food? They could nip a big problem in the bud by prohibiting the sale of unhealthy food with our tax dollars. Oh, don’t forget Kool Aid.

Who's Crazy February 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Step by step, inch by inch.
Cars, BBQ’s, home-fires, soft drinks, calories, guns, EPA; smog, global warming BS, PC, on and on ad-nauseum.
The New World Order silently creeps in undermining your thoughts, actions and your life.
Sheep UNITE and revolt NOW.

FatKids February 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Why are fat kids our responsibility? This issue belongs in the home. This is the responsiblity of the parents not the tax payers or anyone else. When I was a kid, we didn’t have this problem because we were all outside running around, doing chores, playing sports, etc not sitting in front of an electronic babysitter. We weren’t allowed to eat and drink all the crap we wanted. This is NOT our issue. It’s a family/parent issue that the govt should stay out of. Just like CPS…CPS needs to stay out of our business too so that people can raise their kids again.

Reality says... February 14, 2013 at 12:23 PM

This issue requires sooooo much more then taxing. The primary trigger to reduce this epidemic is education; for both children AND their parents. I work in the health care industry, 8/10 times when we see an overweight kid, guess who’s also overweight? Yup, the sister, the mom, the dad, grandma and grandma. If I could see the family dog, I’m guessing it’s overweight to.

CDC released a report in August of 2012, it basically says taxing cigarettes did nothing to reduce the overall consumption of tobacco products, what it did is change the method in which it was consumed. In fact, the overall use of tobacco products increased since the tax was put into place. So if you take away the sodas and such, guess what’s going to go up? Candy, chips, donuts, etc.

As a parent you can be charged with neglect and child endangerment if you fail to feed your children; you’d be surprised to see what constitutes neglect and endangerment of a child. However, you could feed little Johnny all the crap he wants and directly contribute to his childhood obesity by age 9 (which is becoming a regular occurrence), ignore our advise and instructions to bring him/her to within a healthy weight, have repeated visits where we tell you his condition is getting worse, and NOTHING will happen to you as a parent. How is this not a direct result of your lack of parenting. Are you not endangering the life of your child?

Good story to watch:

Gjets February 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

P.K. fat and 60, P.H. ugly and fat, worthless cowards

BagsFlyFree February 14, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Rather than add more nanny laws and skimming profits from companies, we as a society need to promote reward active lifestyles. Why aren’t all gyms, bicycles, running shoes nationally subsidized? Don’t these activities/goods help people stay fit and eventually live healthier less hospital/medicated dependent lives?

Any age group who actively runs races, participating in physical activities like sports, or participates community cleanup efforts should equate to reduced health insurance costs and discount vacation vouchers for fun places like Disneyland, sporting events, and movies.. Promote and reward good behavior rather than villify everything bad we can do to ourselves.

BFF Out!

old concord February 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM

I’m more of the personal responsablity not gov. regulations. The other part for me is how fast our body uses what you eat. Myself, I can eat all kinds of junk and not gain a pound but my wife who is way more active than me can’t look at ice cream with out gainning. If you read this honey Happy V-day to you and to all of you.=)

Don P... North Cawncord February 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Liberals solution to any issue is a new tax. This prOblem starts at home with the parents not with our checkbooks. Look at those clowns in europe they tried taxing fat and it turned out to be a big failure , just likenthe ny soda ban. When will people get the message that far left policies only benefit the politicians and their cronies who propose them?

Mimi (original) February 14, 2013 at 4:10 PM

I limited sugary drinks and soda for my kids when they were young and when they got old enough to buy for themselves they went overboard. At least 1 soda every day, sometimes up to 3. I’m waiting to hear about the diabetes.

sfsean February 14, 2013 at 4:15 PM

“Policies?” Right-more like creeping fascism or worse, a Politboro telling stores what they can and cannot sell. Hey parents, you have a fat kid, IT’S YOUR FAULT! Eat decent food, turn off the tv and video games, get off the couch and get some exercise. It’s really simple stuff.

Anon February 14, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I think this is wrong. After all how else can we thin out the illegal aliens.

Amy February 14, 2013 at 7:44 PM

What ever happened to good parenting and personal responsibility? Why should the government take away our personal freedoms because of some stupid people?

NO FOOD AND DRINK NAZI'S February 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM

To make it fair they need to tax the vegans for not eating a balanced diet !!!!

Yay Area February 14, 2013 at 10:49 PM

I don’t understand why people who get food stamps are allowed to purchase junk food! If food stamps could only be used for healthy food items, that would definitely help alleviate some of the obesity! It ticks me off that the government pays for chips, cookies, ice cream, lunchables, pop in the oven pizzas…COME ON GOVERNMENT!!

Connie Dobbs February 15, 2013 at 12:16 AM

Wait. I thought kids were starving and that’s why we need to give them free breakfast and lunch year-round.

nytemuvr February 15, 2013 at 1:40 AM

A lot of the fast food “resturants” accept food stamps…..that’s not even right. It should be more like the old WIC program we used to have. In the 70s we could only “sell” certain foods for WIC coupons, I’m sure they were traded too then(not to the extent of EBT cards, no more food stamps now), it makes it even easier now that checkouts are computerized to prohibit junk food with the cards. WIC used to be for women with children but it wouldn’t be real hard to reprogram the new registers.

DoReMi February 15, 2013 at 8:03 AM

If it’s not home made then chances are it is not even food. Snacks and other ‘food products’ are engineered to taste great and induce craving for more.

Mothers no longer have the time to put a meal on the table. Also the ‘food’ he/she buys is probably not even recognizable as food if broken down into its parts. Read the label.

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