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Warning Labels for Sweet Drinks?

Would you support mandatory warning labels on sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks similar to the warnings on cigarette packs? In California, legislation proposed on February 13 would require placing warning labels on all bottles and cans of sweet drinks providing 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces. The labels would read as follows: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." This isn’t the first effort of this type: the Associated Press reported a similar bill was introduced in Vermont in 2013 but has been held in committee. At California fast-food restaurants with self-serve soda dispensers, the label would be on the dispenser, according to the Los Angeles Times, while in movie theaters or businesses where the drink dispenser is behind the counter and drinks are served by employees, the warning labels would be placed on the counters. In restaurants, the warning may be required on menus, the Times reported.

My take? The California effort seems to echo the failed proposal by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of large-size sugary drinks sold in delis, fast-food outlets, carts on the city's sidewalks and in its parks, movie theaters and sports arenas. I’ll be interested to see what happens to the California legislation. I'm in favor of experimenting with ways of encouraging people to make better food choices and discouraging them from making worse ones, and sugary drinks are certainly not good choices. Although these drinks are not the only contributor to the obesity epidemic in the United States, they are a major source of the average intake of 355 calories of sugar per person per day. That amounts to 22 teaspoons of sugar daily. A single 12-ounce soda contains about 130 calories and the equivalent of eight teaspoons of sugar. Moreover, the high glycemic load of sugary drinks provokes insulin resistance in many people, which underlies much of the obesity in our society and raises risks of type 2 diabetes.

Sources:
Patrick McGreevy, “California lawmaker proposes adding health warning labels to sodas,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2014, accessed February 14, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-soda-warning-20140214,0,7510007.story#ixzz2tQMX1qvj

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