Is there a soda tax debate coming to your community? The potential for such taxes to address problems with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are important angles to explore, but don’t forget the oral health aspect of the soda tax story.
In the November 2014 elections, Berkeley, Calif., voters approved a 1-cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, a measure strongly opposed by the American Beverage Association but supported by a wide range of health groups.
While Berkeley is the first city in the country to approve such a “sin” tax, it might have opened the door for other communities to do so. In the latest tip sheet, I have collected relevant research and resources for reporters who might be called on to cover soda taxes.
David Tuller, a graduate professor of health care journalism at the University of California, uses the National Sleep Foundation’s pharmaceutical industry ties and the lack of mention of them in stories about sleep foundation studies to question the current structure of health care journalism and to advocate a new model based on a public health perspective.
Tuller contends that few journalists have had “training in how to read a study, much less a general conception of public health.”
He cites a need for improved coverage of the medical needs of veterans, the health impacts of climate change, the battle over reproductive rights, the threat of bioterrorism, and contaminated food saying that “accurate and actionable information about any of them demands that we have knowledgeable, trained communicators who can keep us informed, guard against undue corporate influence on research and on health policy decisions, clearly interpret the nuances of epidemiologic studies, and generally look out for the public’s interests.”