Proposed legislation in California would require sugary drink makers to put warning labels about potential health hazards on their products.
If the bill were to pass, sodas and juices with added sugar would contain a label reading, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”
“When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” said state Sen. Bill Monning (D), the bill’s sponsor, in a news conference. “As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians vital information they need to make healthier choices.”
About one in ten Americans nationally and in California has diabetes and over 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Type-2 diabetes afflicts minorities, and especially Latinos, at a far higher rate than ir does other Americans, and obesity-related illness makes up somewhere between 10 and 12 percent of all national health insurance spending, including 11 percent of Medicaid expenditures.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that people who derive 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar are twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to people who take in just seven percent of their calories from sugar.
California beverage companies were quick to criticize the legislation. “[O]nly four percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda,” argued CalBev, the Golden State affiliate of American Beverage Association, in a statement.
But several academic studies dispute that notion. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released two major reports on Americans’ soda consumption habits and the health hazards of soda, respectively.
The CDC found that one in four American high school students drinks at least one soda per day, and that 16 percent drink at least one sports drink with added sugar per day. According to the World Health Organization, drinking even one soda per day increases an adult’s chances of being obese by 27 percent and child’s chances of being obese by a staggering 55 percent.