Food and Behaviour Research

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12 September 2014 - KQED News - Berkeley’s Talking About Sugar — And the Conversation Isn’t Sweet

Patricia Yollin

In Berkeley, a place where politics is rarely sweet, sugar is an especially bitter topic. Right now it’s the talk of the town – in the form of six conversations leading up to the vote on Measure D, a tax on sugary drinks on the November ballot.

“Soda: the Series” is taking a look at the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages on people’s health and the environment.

The first conversation, which occurred on the evening of Sept. 4, featured four Bay Area health professionals who brought passion, anger and plenty of science to the Hillside Club in North Berkeley.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF, started off his presentation by saying he had no opinion on Measure D because university policy doesn’t allow it.

“But you can’t understand the referendum unless you understand the science,” Lustig said. “And that’s my job.”

With prosecutorial zeal, he picked apart the sugar industry’s contention that its product is harmless.