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California State Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has introduced legislation that would require safety warning labels on sugary drinks sold in the Golden State.
“When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” said Monning. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices.”
SB 1000 would place the warning on the front of all beverage containers containing sweetened drinks with 75 or more calories per 12-ounce serving. The label, created by a national panel of nutrition and public health experts, would read: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."
“The science on the harmful impacts associated with drinking soda and other sugary drinks is clear and conclusive,” asserted Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a sponsor of the bill. “An overwhelming body of research has unequivocally shown that sugary drinks are major contributors to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. These diseases cost California billions of dollars in health care and lost productivity every year. When any product causes this much harm, it is time to take action.”
Other sponsors of the legislation include the California Medical Association, which noted that Americans drink more than 45 gallons of sugary beverages annually with little thought to the health effects, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and the California Black Health Network, concerned by research finding that unless the nation’s obesity epidemic is halted, one in three children born after 2000 – and almost half of Latino and African-American kids – will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes.
Statewide non-alcoholic beverage industry group CalBev told Progressive Grocer: “We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue. However, it is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, only 4 percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda. According to government data, foods, not beverages, are the top source of sugars in the American diet.”
Far from being opposed to all nutritional labels, however, the group noted that the beverage industry’s 2010 “Clear on Calories” initiative is a consumer-friendly calorie label on the front of all beverage packaging.