This past Thursday, California state Senator Bill Monning introduced a bill—the first of its kind in the nation—that would place warning labels on soft drinks and other empty-calorie beverages in California.
The aptly named Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act applies to all sodas and sugar-sweetened juice/tea beverages containing more than 75 calories per 12 ounces. The warning would read as follows:
STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
In my opinion, putting warning labels on sodas is a step whose time has come. Around the world, soft drink consumption is significantly correlated with overweight, obesity, and diabetes.¹ Add to that the fact that an estimated 20% of cancer cases are linked to obesity,² and the warning actually seems a little too kind. Besides, it doesn’t even mention thinning bones, even though data from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study shows that colas (both sweetened and unsweetened) are associated with decreased bone density in women.³
(Looking for a healthy drink? Try a dairy-free blueberry muffin protein smoothie.)
Unsurprisingly, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the beverage lobby is up at arms, claiming that they’re being unfairly singled out.
And you know what? I agree.
In fact, there’s so much wrong with the Standard American Diet (SAD), that it’s hard to know where to start. How about warning labels for hot dogs, which are clearly linked with cancer⁴ and diabetes⁵? Or for salt, which has proven time and again to drive up blood pressure and increase risk of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack?⁶
That said, a first step is better than nothing at all, and I think California is on the right track. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the measure will actually pass. (I can dream, can’t I?)
So, what do you think? Are warning labels on soda a good idea or a terrible plan? What other foods do you think deserve a warning label?
2. De Pergola G, Silvestris F. Obesity as a major risk factor for cancer. J Obes. 2013:291546.
3. Tucker KL et al. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;84(4):936-42.
4. Red and Processed Meats: The Cancer Connection. American Institute for Cancer Research.
5. Even Modest Amounts of Meat Increase Risk for Diabetes. PCRM Breaking Medical News, February 13, 2014.
6. Cook NR et al. Lower Levels of Sodium Intake and Reduced Cardiovascular Risk. Circulation, AHA.113.006032 Published online before print January 10, 2014.