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The Source: Big Soda Fights Public Health

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San Antonio has a diabetes problem, this is an indisputable fact. Sugary drinks like soda don't help, and many argue are one of the biggest reasons south Texas suffers. That Big Red and Barbacoa is certainly not helping your blood sugar. But as the County has stepped up to the plate to try and reduce consumption of soda, the city was initially absent from the conversation, as The Source talked about in March. The city has since become a partner of the coalition. 

"I think the city council was going to take it up, and for various reasons did not take it up. It's controversial. If you don't think there is push on the other side you're rather naive," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on The Source when asked why the city wasn't in a leadership position on the campaign.

The city's public health department had planned to have its own campaign, but it was shuttered around the same time the beverage industry was lobbying against it, according to emails obtained by the San Antonio Express-News

The director Thomas Schlenker would later be fired, he claims for pushing the city to do more to combat sugary drink consumption. City Manager Sheryl Sculleysays because of "unprofessional" comments made towards women.

From Berkley, California to New York City the push to raise awareness about the harm that high-sugar drinks like soda does to the human body. While Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg failed to ban jumbo-sized sugary drinks years ago. Philadelphia along with San Francisco failed to pass a tax on soda in years past despite big pushes by those cities.  But are things about to change.

All the while these cities have put up big money for public health campaigns, and that may be impacting consumption, with estimates as much as a 25 percent drop in consumption in the past 20 years. As one piece in the New York Times highlighted that "The Obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda compnies are losing the war."

The city of Berkley successfully passed a soda tax late last year, and it appears it too does impact consumption.


  • Marion Nestle, Paullette Goddard Professor in Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Author of the book "Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)."
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org