Fresno area high in soda consumption, cavities

Central San Joaquin Valley residents drink more soda -- and also are fatter -- than other Californians, according to new research.

The region ranks at the top in both trends, a study by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found. More than a third of Valley adults drink soda daily, and up to two-thirds are obese.

"The Valley is the soda consumption capital of California," said researcher Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which produced the study in conjunction with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "It's frightening."

The state's sugar tooth is expensive for all taxpayers: Californians pay $41 billion a year in obesity-related health-care costs and lost productivity, he said.

Chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure will continue to rise unless consumer habits and public policies address the state's obesity problem, experts said.

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