High rate of obese and overweight kids poses problems for SF 

click to enlarge Sodas
  • Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Sodas are a major factor in child obesity rates, according to city health officials.
Most adults in The City are fit as fiddles when it comes to national averages, but the kids are overweight.

As families with children continue to flee expensive San Francisco, the children who remain continue to gain weight at an unhealthy rate.

One-third of The City’s children are overweight or obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That rate is similar to the national average and has stayed the same for about a decade.

Among San Francisco adults, 41.8 percent are overweight or obese, according to the California Health Interview Survey. That’s far lower than the CDC’s 69.2 percent nationwide figure.

But the obesity and overweight rate among kids bodes ill for their future.

A child who is overweight has a 63 percent chance of becoming an overweight adult, according to Christina Gupta, a senior health planner with the Department of Public Health.

The fat facts were revealed Wednesday during a City Hall hearing reviewing the toll on San Francisco caused by drinks with added sugar, which are being spotlighted as a key cause behind children’s inability to stay trim.

“Sugar is all over our food system,” said Gupta, who added that half of calories consumed from sugar come from sodas and other drinks.

In response, a number of elected officials are pushing forward with a proposal to tax sodas, energy drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages — which is drawing a sharp reaction from the California Beverage Association, a group that has successfully lobbied to defeat similar tax efforts in other cities.

Only one-fifth of The City’s kids drink one or more sugary drinks a day, according to a 2012 study from UCLA. That’s down from one in four in 2007.

But it still might be too much: Doctors recommend consumption of no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

That’s hard to do for soda drinkers, as one soda has 37 teaspoons of sugar, health officials said.

Diabetes, obesity and other harmful health conditions caused by soda consumption could cost San Francisco’s health system as much as $28 million a year, according to the Board of Supervisors’ legislative analyst.

And whether you drink soda or not, the drink’s effects are costing you: Lost productivity and other drains caused by sugary drinks ring up to $48.1 million per year, or about $58 per city resident.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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