Op-ed: All of us in Berkeley should say yes to Measure D

I am writing to thank Erica Etelson for her op-ed in Berkeleyside on Sept. 8 in support of Measure D, titled “Soda kills – we need to vote ‘yes’ on Measure D.” It was well-written, passionate, timely, and on point.

We face an urgent and preventable health crisis and action is needed now!

Nationally, one in three of our children are projected to get Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, a figure that rises to one in two among African-American and Latino people. Additionally, in Berkeley, African-Americans are four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes and fourteen times more likely to be hospitalized.

Reputable national sources have proven without a doubt that over the last 10 to 20 years there has been consumption of increasing kinds and amounts of sugar sweetened beverages, especially among African American and Latino youth.

The beverage industry has aimed much of their advertising at our kids. Sugar sweetened beverages are directly correlated to this increased consumption. The incidence of diabetes and obesity has increased over this same span of time. There is something we can and must do about this epidemic.

My family has a life-threatening crisis with diabetes as a result of too many sugar sweetened beverages. The multi-billion dollar sugary drink industry pretends to be concerned about the pocketbooks of low-income families; however, they refuse to speak to the health consequences and medical costs that their products play a unique role in perpetuating.

The Big Soda billionaires want to confuse consumers and make them think the Soda Tax is a choice issue. However, facts speak for themselves, there is an alarming obesity and diabetes crisis that disproportionately affects the African-American and other communities of color. Simply speaking, sugary drinks affect the negative health outcomes in our communities.

There is another point that I need to stress. Written into Measure D is the creation of a panel of experts, people with extensive background in community and child nutrition, healthcare, and education, who will make recommendations to City Council about funding programs that improve children’s health across Berkeley. This panel, together with a broad-based community coalition, will keep our elected officials accountable to make sure the funds from this tax are used appropriately.

I support Measure D because it takes this fight to its source. Soda and other sugary beverages are the number one source of added sugars in Americans’ diets, adding empty calories that we do not need. Taxing soda, just like we tax cigarettes, makes sense. We can prevent this crisis. This is the right first step for our health. Please join me in supporting Measure D and Berkeley vs. Big Soda. Vote yes on Measure D.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related, local authors are preferred, and we don’t publish anonymous pieces. Please email submissions to us. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

Mansour Id-Deen is President of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP