Calif. considers warning labels on sugary drinks

By staff writers

February 14, 2014 -- California lawmakers are weighing a requirement to put warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks.

SB 1000 would make California the first state to require warnings on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces, according to a story from the Associated Press.

The label would read: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."

The bill's author, state Sen. William Monning (D-Carmel), cited research showing the link between sugary drinks and those health problems, noting that the wording was developed by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts.

The bill is supported by the California Medical Association and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

Other health advocacy groups are also sponsoring the bill, citing the heavy consumption of sugary drinks and associated health problems among minorities.

A similar bill was introduced last year in Vermont that required warning labels on beverages that contain sugar or other artificial additives.

CalBev, a California group associated with the American Beverage Association, noted there are calorie counts on the front of many beverage containers, and bottled drinks have detailed ingredient lists and nutritional information.

The group agreed that obesity is a serious issue but called the bill misleading, stating that only 6% of calories in the average American diet come from soda, fruit, and sports and energy drinks, compared with 11% in sweets and deserts.

Moreover, the group claimed that most calories are consumed in the form of fats, oils, and starches in food. They also said the bill would increase the cost of doing business in California.

Medical groups supporting the bill countered that sugary drinks are the largest source of added calories in the American diet. They noted that one soda a day increases an adult's chances of being overweight by 27% and a child's by 55%, while increasing the risk of diabetes by 26%.

Monning compared the warnings to similar efforts to control alcohol and tobacco, adding that it's the government's responsibility to protect public health.

He said the labels are in line with health campaigns and proposed ordinances in several California cities that discourage sugar consumption. San Francisco is considering a soda tax, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unsuccessfully pushed proposals to tax soda and ban the sale of large soda containers.

Warning labels are a way to offset $100 million advertising campaigns by beverage companies, Monning said.

Copyright © 2014

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