Alameda County Health Department: Obesity Report by-topic/obesity.aspx


Alameda County Health Department: Sugar, dental caries and oral health


Alameda County Health Department: Race and Health Equity


Alameda County Health Department: Race and Health Equity


Alameda County Health Department: Race and Health Equity

Sugar Facts

• Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the CDC. As for Americans 20 and older, 30.4% reported that they were obese last year, up from 29.9% in 2014. Meanwhile, the prevalence of diabetes has quadrupled in just over three decades.

• Globally, sugar intake per capita has increased nearly fivefold over the past century, with recent gains driven by emerging markets. At the same time, diabetes and obesity—sometimes referred to as “diabesity”—are at epidemic proportions, and sugar is among the prime suspects.

• Global sugar and sweeteners consumption has nearly trebled since the 1960s.

• Of particular concern is the escalation of diabesity among children and adolescents; the earlier the onset of these conditions, the higher the long-term costs. The World Health Organization estimates that obesity accounts for 2% to 7% of global health-care costs, and these numbers are likely conservative.

• Lost productivity resulting from diabesity has a calculable drag on economic growth, says Elga Bartsch, Morgan Stanley’s Global Co-Head of Economics. diabesity could shave average annual real GDP growth to 1.8% over the next 20 years—a drop of .5% from projections.

• If the diabesity trend starts to slow, stop—even reverse, the effects could be startling. Imagine healthier communities; more productive working populations; less financial drag on individual, corporate and government budgets; stronger economic growth at a global scale.


• Sugar, or White Gold, as British colonists called it, was the engine of the slave trade that brought millions of Africans to the Americas beginning in the early 16th-century. Profit from the sugar trade was so significant that it may have even helped America achieve independence from Great Britain.

• The history of every nation in the Caribbean, much of South America and parts of the Southern United States was forever shaped by sugar cane plantations started as cash crops by European superpowers.

• Sugar slavery was the key component in what historians call The Trade Triangle, a network whereby slaves were sent to work on New World plantations, the product of their labor was sent to a European capital to be sold and other goods were brought to Africa to purchase more slaves. By the middle of the 19th century, more than 10 million Africans had been forcibly removed to the New World and distributed among the sugar plantations of Brazil and the Caribbean.

Bracero Program

• In 1942, the United States government negotiated with Mexico to import workers in order to alleviate a serious national agricultural labor shortage. The Mexican Farm Labor Program was more commonly known as the Bracero program, translated as “helping hands.” More than 15,000 Mexicans came to Oregon under the program. The government estimated that during the war, Mexican workers thinned 25 percent of Oregon’s sugar beets, and harvested 40 percent.

• In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the Great Western Sugar Company began recruiting laborers from outside the South Platte River Valley to accommodate their need for hand work in the sugar beet fields and in the beet sugar factories. The Company’s concern was to secure for the farmers and factories such a supply of cheap labor as would encourage more farmers to raise sugar beets at their contract price.

In 1902, the Great Western Sugar Company began recruiting Mexican laborers for contract labor from northern New Mexico, southern Colorado and Texas to supplement the German-Russian labor supply. By 1924, most of the German-Russian laborers had moved up to tenant farming positions, had saved enough money to purchase their own farms or had moved to the urban centers.

In 1924, the Great Western Sugar Company therefore hired 1,026 resident Mexican-American families and shipped in 10,500 Mexican laborers (Brown, 1926, p. 9) to work sugar beets on 26,161 acres of land in the South Platte River.

• The Great Western Sugar Company assumed children would work the fields. It was estimated that seven percent of the sugar beet workers were under fourteen years (Clopper, 1916, p. 176). It was the Company’s concern to secure for the farmer such a supply of cheap labor as would encourage him to raise sugar beets at the contract price. To achieve this goal, the Company resorted to a family system of labor, by securing fathers with large families of children. Sixty percent of the woman and children of Mexican descent families and ninety percent of the women and children of German-Russian families worked the fields (Skinner, 192?, p. 29).

• Government-sponsored research and construction of irrigation systems in the 1890s, combined with a sharp rise in the national consumption of sugar at the turn of the century, made the sugar beet industry one of the fastest growing and most successful in the Great Plains. Main growing areas were, and are, eastern Colorado and western Nebraska, the Yellowstone and Bighorn Valleys of Montana and Wyoming, and the Red River Valley of the North. Government and industry cooperated to provide farmers with the muchneeded labor in these sparsely populated areas. Two groups of laborers became the working backbone of the industry: German Russians and Mexicans. For example, in 1924 the Great Western Sugar Company brought to Montana’s Yellowstone Valley 3,604 Mexicans and 1,231 German Russians to harvest a record 31,000 acres.

• When Hawaiian plantations began to produce on a large scale, it became obvious that a labor force needed to be imported. The Hawaiian population was 1/6 its pre-1778 size due to ravaging disease brought by foreigners.[4] Additionally, Hawaiian people saw little use for working on the plantations when they could easily subsist by farming and fishing.[7] Plantation owners quickly began importing workers which dramatically changed Hawaii’s demographics and is an extreme example of globalization.


In 1850, the first imported worker arrived from China.[7] Between 1852–1887, almost 50,000 Chinese arrived to work in Hawaii, while 38% of them returned to China.[7] Although help was needed to work the fields, new problems, like feeding, housing, and caring for new employees, were created for many of the planters since the Chinese immigrants did not live off the land like Native Hawaiians, who required little support.[11] To maintain a workforce unable to organize effectively against them, plantation managers diversified the ethnicities of their workforce, and in 1878 the first Japanese arrived to work on the plantations.[1] Between 1885–1924, 200,000 Japanese people arrived with 55% returning to Japan.[7] Between 1903–1910, 7,300 Koreans arrived and only 16% returned to Korea.[7] In 1906 Filipino people first arrived. Between 1909 and 1930, 112,800 Filipinos came to Hawaii with 36% returning to the Philippines.[7]


• If the cultural, health and economic problems with Coke’s colonization of Latin America weren’t bad enough, it also has a labor record that puts even most other multinational companies to shame. In Guatemala and Colombia, there is strong evidence that the Coca-Cola company actively supported the murders of union activists by paramilitary members at bottling plants run by its subsidiaries and contractors over the years. In Mexico, El Salvador and other countries there have also been ample allegations of the company using paramilitary strength to prevent unionizing and keep employees in line.

In 2001, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) filed a lawsuit against Coke for the murder of union activist Isidro Gil Segundo and an ongoing campaign of intimidation, terror, murder and paramilitary activity against union members and leaders. Across the board, Coke and its Latin American bottling partners, including Panamco and Bebidas y Alimentos, have waged vicious anti-union campaigns and been accused of rampant illegal labor practices, intimidation techniques, unfair firings and physical attacks.

… Today, Coca-Cola plainly stands as an unvarnished symbol of neoliberalism and modern corporate mercantilism. It is, plainly said, a multinational corporation exploiting cheap labor and “emerging markets,” that employs an array of illegal and criminal business “strategies,” and utilizes powerful public relations, marketing and lobbying powers to avoid accountability and fatten the company’s profits just as its product fattens its consumers.

• It is, as a result, of some political sensitivity to even suggest that something like almost the entire sugar industry (and all the things dependent on it, such as soda drinks and confectioneries, candies, etc) wastes many resources and that the true costs (economic, political, social, health, environmental etc) are not accounted for by the industry.

Child Labor

• Earning 150 pesos ($3.50) for a seven-hour day, Dante has been a child laborer in the Philippine region of Mindanao since he was seven years old. He says he does it to help his parents, but he is just one of many children who are part of an illegal economic system of child labor. The child labor problem is so overt and widespread in this region that Villanueva says the Sugar Industry Foundation and the Coca-Cola Foundation are paying to build a four-room high school that is set to open later this month.

The Coca-Cola company is one of the largest buyers of sugar in the world and the sugar factories fed by the fields of Northern Mindanao call Coca-Cola one of their main customers. In a statement to CNN, Coca-Cola said it “does not support, encourage or endorse any form of child labor in our operations throughout our global bottling system or in our supplier network.”
The company says it conducts continuous assessments of its operations to ensure strong policies and practices are in place to help avoid child labor.

Sugar Industry Subsidy

• The effects of regulations on the sugar economy—one that has led to high prices of sugar in the U.S. and use of substitutes…
• According the USDA estimates, the United States will use approximately 11,885,000 tons of sugar in fiscal year 2012-2013.

• Sugar prices in the United States are kept artificially high through a 3-part system of economic controls. First, the government imposes a rigid quota system on sugar production. Currently, 54.35% of US produced sugar must be beet sugar, while the remaining 45.65% is produced from sugar cane. Each state and sugar company is then assigned a production quota based on a complicated formula decided upon by the USDA. This cartel structure makes it illegal for producers to sell sugar that exceeds their given quota. The government further controls the sugar market through a two-tiered tariff system that allows US growers to provide about 85% of the market and keeps prices artificially high. Quotas are set for both beet and cane sugar imports, and those selling under that quota are charged a lower tariff than those selling above it. Finally, the federal government operates a complicated loan system to ensure sugar prices do not fall below a government-mandated price floor. The USDA loans money to sugar processors, with the sugar being counted as collateral for the loan. Processors in turn agree to pay sugar growers a minimum price. If the market price of sugar rises, processors can sell their sugar on the market in order to repay the government loan. If it falls however, processors can forfeit their sugar to the government rather than repaying the loan. In this manner, the price of sugar is guaranteed for both growers and processors.

Corporate Cover-Up

• Scientists began to uncover a link between sugar and heart disease about 60 years ago, and now, the general consensus among experts is that sugar intake is associated with heart disease risk. But why did it take so long for researchers to inspect this link? A new historical analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday claims that the sugar industry sponsored research that cast doubt about sugar’s health risks and promoted fat “as the dietary culprit” in heart disease — and didn’t disclose it.

• “We have to ask ourselves how many lives and dollars could have been saved, and how different today’s health picture would be, if the industry were not manipulating science in this way,” he said in the statement. “Only 50 years later are we waking up to the true harm from sugar.”

Cultural Resources

How Sugar Changed the WorldHow Sugar Changed the World

• Here we present an introductory guided tour to the music and dance of sugar – streaming audio where possible, links which allow you to hear or see more if you choose. Whether it is Bomba and Plena in Puerto Rico, the work songs of a konbit or the festive sounds of Rara in Haiti, which became Gaga in the Dominican Republic, the various African-religious forms such as Palo Mayombe and Yoruba in Cuba; or the tamboo bamboo of Trinidad; whether it is the Hole Hole Bushi of Hawaii or the many East Indian sacred songs of the Caribbean – here we offer a direct link from the grim cane fields to the pulse of life. We hope visitors enjoy the music – and join us in celebrating those who invented these songs, rhythms, dances, and beats in the shadow of the grinding mills.

• They also made music and invented dances that were the very pulse of life. Music was woven into ceremonies, bringing African beliefs, beats, and worship across the ocean. Music mourned and defied, celebrated and uplifted. Every land where the Africans worked, where the cane grew, has its own form of beat, its own rhythms, its own songs and dances that can be traced back to sugar – and even to sources in Africa. And that was only the first step in the sugar-music-story. As workers traveled throughout the sugar lands – from Haiti to the Dominican Republic to Cuba; from the British islands to the Dominican Republic and Haiti – they brought music with them, creating ever new songs and dances blending traditions from each land.

⦁ Chronology

⦁ Preparatory Activity:   Sugar Chronology

⦁ Either bring in containers of honey (prehistory), granulated cane sugar (between 100-1200), corn syrup (Karo, 1902), and aspartame (Equal/Nutrasweet, 1965) or sucralose (Splenda, 1976), or print out pictures of them.

⦁ Challenge students to arrange them in chronological order.Discuss how close the class came to getting the order correct.  What surprises were there, if any?

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says half of American adults have a chronic disease, and one-quarter of them have two or more. And, as mentioned before, people of color are more likely to be sick. For example, Black people are 40 percent more likely than whites to have high blood pressure, and suffer from a 77 percent higher rate of diabetes. Hispanics and Asians also have higher rates of diabetes than whites (66 and 18 percent, respectively).

The Market & Industry Associations

Market & Competition (
The United States refined sugar market has grown at about 1-2 percent per year over the last ten years. Corn sweeteners and non-nutritive sweeteners also constitute a large portion of the overall sweetener market. The Company believes that the United States annual market growth for sugar in the near future will be approximately 1.0 percent.

Approximately 65 percent of the United States refined sugar market share is concentrated in the top three sellers. The Company’s sugar production and sales represent approximately 13 percent of the total domestic market for refined sugar. Sugar sales by United Sugars Corporation, the Company’s marketing agent, represent approximately 25 percent of the United States refined sugar market.

United is currently the second largest marketer of refined sugar in the United States. Main competitors in the domestic market are: Domino Foods Incorporated; Cargill, Incorporated; The Amalgamated Sugar Company LLC; Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC: Michigan Sugar Company; and The Western Sugar Cooperative.

American Beverage Association (


We unite America’s non-alcoholic beverage companies to achieve responsible public policy and promote our industry’s commitment to customers, consumers and communities.

The non-alcoholic beverage industry plays an important role in the U.S. economy. Our industry has a direct economic impact of more than $166.5 billion, provides nearly 240,000 jobs and helps to support hundreds of thousands more that depend, in part, on beverage sales for their livelihoods.  Beverage companies and their employees, and the firms and employees indirectly employed by the industry, provide significant tax revenues – $13.5 billion at the state level and $22.5 billion at the federal level.  In addition, the beverage companies that produce and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the U.S. and those they directly employ contribute nearly $1.5 billion to charitable causes in communities across the nation.

The American Beverage Association (ABA) is the trade association that represents America’s non-alcoholic beverage industry.  ABA was founded in 1919 as the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages, and renamed the National Soft Drink Association in 1966.  Today the ABA represents hundreds of beverage producers, distributors, franchise companies and support industries.  Together, they bring to market hundreds of brands, flavors and packages, including regular and diet soft drinks, bottled water and water beverages, 100 percent juice and juice drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and ready-to-drink teas.

The Black Man’s Lament
(or How To Make Sugar)
by Amelia Opie


There is a beauteous plant that grows
In western India’s sultry clime,
Which makes, alas! The Black man’s woes,
And also makes the White man’s crime.

For know, the tall gold stems contain
A sweet rich juice, which White men prize,
And that they may this sugar gain,
The Negro toils, and bleeds, and dies….
But when the crops are ripen’d quite,
‘Tis then begin our saddest pains;
For then we toil both day and night,
Though fever burns within our veins….

Our task is next to catch the juice
In leaden bed, soon as it flows;
And instant, lest it spoils for use,
It into boiling vessels goes….

While cooling, it begins to grain,
Or form in crystals white and clear;
Then we remove the whole again,
And to the curing-house we bear.

Molasses there is drain’d away;
The liquor is through the hogsheads pour’d;
The scum falls through, the crystals stay;
The casks are clos’d, and soon on board.

The ships to English country go,
And bear the hardly-gotten treasure.
Oh! That goorl Englishmen could know
How Negroes suffer for their pleasure!

Mr. Sugar Came to Town

Author: Harriet Rohmer & Cruz Gomez

Grandma Lupe’s tamales are the favorite food of all the children in town until Mr. Sugar comes riding in on his magical truck full of sweets. Suddenly the children won’t eat anything but double-chocolate sundaes, raspberry cream pie, and fudge bars. Before long they’re so roly-poly they can’t see their feet, and their teeth are full of black holes! It falls to Grandma Lupe to unmask Mr. Sugar and to show the children why something that feels good may not be good for them. Adapted from a puppet play by the Migrant Farmworkers Outreach Program in California’s Central Valley, this fanciful tale treats the themes of substance abuse and nutrition in an amusing, whimsical way.