California Senator Proposes Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Sen. Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel, Calif., said the bill is the country's first piece of legislation that would require safety warning labels on sugary drinks.

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

Legislation introduced Feb. 13 by a state senator would require the disclaimer above on beverage containers with added sweeteners that possess at least 75 calories per 12 ounces.

Sen. Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel, Calif., said the bill is the country's first piece of legislation that would require safety warning labels on sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks have comprised 43% of added calories in the American diet over the last 30 years, Monning's office said in a news release.

A national panel of nutrition and public health experts developed the proposed label.

As physicians, were desperate to break the cycle of diabetes and obesity we see in our offices every day," said Dr. Ashby Wolfe of the California Medical Association, which is sponsoring the legislation. Americans drink more than 45 gallons of sugary beverages a year. These drinks have become a major part of the American diet and we drink them without a second thought to the damage they do to our health. Consumers have a right to know about the unique health problems associated with soda and other sugary drinks."

The Latino Coalition for a Health California and the California Black Health Network also have sponsored the legislation.

Jessica Borek, a spokeswoman for CalBev, the state arm of the American Beverage Association, said in a Los Angeles Times article that the organization opposes Senate Bill 1000 "because obesity is a complex condition that can't be boiled down to one specific product or ingredient."

CalBev said only 4% of calories in the average American diet come directly from soda.

The legislation reflects growing interest in regulating sugary drinks, with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failed soda ban representing the most famousor infamous, depending on your positionattempt to date to limit consumption of sugar-laden beverages.

Health experts say the nation is facing an obesity epidemic, resulting in staggering healthcare costs and a number of preventable ailments ranging from heart disease to asthma to sleep apnea. Monning's office said 1 in 3 children born after 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes unless the nation can reverse the fat crisis.

One 2012 analysis found that the United States could save a whopping $611.7 billion in 20 years by just reducing obesity by 5%. According to Trust for America's Health, a non-profit organization that conducted the analysis, recent obesity rates have remained flat in nearly every state.

But the figures remain disturbing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that obesity affects more than one-third of U.S. adults and roughly 17% of children and adolescents. According an August 2013 report by Trust for America's Health, 13 states have adult obesity rates exceeding 30% while 41 states have rates of at least 25%.

For an in-depth perspective on the obesity epidemic and the fight over the role of government, check out the recent issue of Boardroom Journal.

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