Wicks bill would whisk sugary drinks out of checkout aisles

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Yesterday, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) introduced AB 765, the California Healthy Checkout Aisles for Healthy Families Act, which would prohibit stores from placing sugar-sweetened beverages at checkout aisles.

“The evidence is clear: the sugar-sweetened beverage industry is fueling a public health crisis of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” said Wicks. “My bill helps consumers stick to healthier choices by stopping the manipulative practice of putting sugar-sweetened beverages at the checkout line.”

Placing sugary beverages at checkout lines is a longstanding marketing tactic that induces customers to buy and consume products they didn’t intend to. A 2008 study in the Journal of Targeting, Measurement, and Analysis for Marketing found that the people who buy soda and candy from the checkout line are often the same people who tried to avoid those items elsewhere in the store. And a 2014 Front-End Focus study found that 45 percent of shoppers they interviewed had bought soda from the checkout line in the previous month and that many of those people did so more than once a month.

As the effects of sugary drinks on the human body have come into greater focus, so too have the negative impacts to individual and public health from these marketing practices. A 2010 analysis by the journal Diabetes Care found that people who consume 1–2 cans of soda per day or more had a 26 percent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than those who avoided sugary drinks. In a 2013 review, Professor Frank Hu at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found sufficient scientific evidence that reducing population-level consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages would help prevent obesity and associated health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

The public health impacts of increasing soda consumption also result in higher healthcare costs. A 2013 report by the research arm of financial services giant Credit Suisse estimated that 30 to 40 percent of all U.S. healthcare costs could be linked to excess sugar in people’s diets, much of which comes from sugar-sweetened beverages.

AB 765 addresses an important piece of the soda consumption issue by taking temptation out of the checkout line and making sure consumers are provided with healthier options. AB 765 also gives consumers what they already say they want: A 2017 survey by the Center for Science in the Public Interest showed that 67 percent of customers would “prefer not to have soda, candy, chips and other high-fat, high-sugar foods at checkouts at grocery stores.”

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Assemblymember Buffy Wicks represents California’s 15th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the cities of Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, and Piedmont. You can learn more about Asm. Wicks at a15.asmdc.org