Sugar-sweetened beverage ordinance – San Francisco, USA

Key Insights

  • Barring purchase and sale of sugary drinks by city agencies
  • Discouraging sugar-sweetened beverage consumption
  • Improving public health outcomes


Over the last 40 years consumption of sugary beverages has soared in California, contributing to increased overall sugar intake and high rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and tooth decay. In 2015 San Francisco took action by amending its administrative code to forbid the purchase of all sugar-sweetened beverages using city funds, and their sale or distribution under public contracts or grants. The action was part of a wider suite of measures proposed by the multi-agency San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership and Shape Up SF.


This case study version is from the Menu of Actions (2019). Suggested citation: Halliday, J., Platenkamp, L., Nicolarea, Y. (2019) A menu of actions to shape urban food systems for improved nutrition, GAIN, MUFPP and RUAF.

Sugar sweetened beverages, Shutterstock/Monticello

The action and its aims

San Francisco issued an ordinance (99-15) amending its administrative code to bar city officers and departments from purchasing sugar-sweetened beverages using city funds, and to prevent their sale or distribution under contracts or grants. The ordinance was part of a suite of measures (some of which were not passed or were successfully challenged) that aimed to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and contribute to better public health outcomes.

When it was introduced

The ordinance was issued in 2015.

Why it was needed

It was considered necessary in light of the increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages over the last 40 years, with dramatic effects on overall sugar intake and rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and tooth decay. It is estimated that over 6 million adults, 2 million adolescents, and 2 million children in California consume at least one such beverage each day, with the highest consumption in black and Latino communities.

Who initiated it, who is involved

The ordinance was one of several proposals made by the multi-agency San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership (SFHIP) and multi-disciplinary coalition Shape Up SF (SUSF) to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. It was unanimously approved by the Youth Commission, recommended by the Land Use and Transportation Committee, adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and signed by the Mayor.

Impacts to date

No impact data were found in the public domain.

More information: Similar actions have been introduced in Boston (USA), where the 2011 Healthy Beverage Executive Order prohibits sale of sugar-sweetened beverages on city property, and in the Murrumbidgee region (Australia), where an interim directive passed in 2016 banned the sale of drinks containing added sugar in health facilities.

Do you have an update to this case study?

Contact us

Further reading

What can you do?

Learn about more themes and topics

Share your city’s case study and lessons learned

Sign up to receive updates

Learn more about upcoming events and other highlights 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Food System

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a significant number of interconnected objectives related to agriculture and food.

Contact details



Related case studies