/ Health

Should California Put Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks?

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State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has proposed legislation that would require sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and fruit drinks to have a prominently displayed warning label that states the health risks of drinks with added sugar. If passed, California would be the first in the nation to implement such a policy.


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This bill would cost taxpayers nothing, as the beverage companies would be responsible for printing the label on their products. Supporters say that the label could lead to big savings in state-wide healthcare costs, while opponents say that tax revenue would fall due to decreasing sales.

A longtime health advocate, Monning has proposed similar legislation in the past, such as a 2013 bill that would have placed a 1 cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks. The bill stalled in the legislature, never making it out of committee. According to Monning, more than 60% of adults and 40% of children in California are overweight, and sugary drinks have comprised 43% of the added calories in the American diet. According to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes are on the rise in California, costing the state $41 billion annually. And the World Health Organization recently came out with a report that states drinking one soda a day increases the likelihood of an adult being overweight by 27%, and a child's by 55%.

Recently there have been several attempts in California to regulate the sugary beverage industry. In 2012, the cities of Richmond and El Monte voted on whether to tax sugary beverages. Both measures were defeated. This year, the cities of San Francisco and Berkeley are both considering placing measures before their voters that would tax distributers of sugary drinks within the city.

CalBev, the political lobbying group for the beverage industry in California, is expected to vehemently oppose the warning label legislation. They state that only 4% of calories in the average American diet comes directly from soda.

SB 1000, the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, would place warning labels on beverages with added sweeteners that contain more than 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces. Warning labels would also go on self serve soda dispensers in fast food restaurants, as well as on the counters of businesses where the soda dispenser is behind the counter (such as a movie theater). In sit down restaurants, the label might be placed on the menu. The warning label would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” If passed, the law would go in effect July 1st, 2015. The legislation is co-sponsored by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the California Medical Association, the California Black Health Network, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.


Added by: Russell Sterten 11m, 3w ago

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Bodhi Crandall Rus Bodhi Crandall Rus Bodhi Crandall Rus from Santa Cruz, California 10m ago Neutral

I support the intent of this initiative, but not as it is currently written. From looking at labels, the problem area seems to be around 100 calories per 8 ounces. I only want this label on things like soda, lemonade, grape juice, clarified apple juice, iced tea, etc. Sports drinks and some good juices do not need labeling.

I would hope to see labels like, "WARNING: This product contains concentrated fruit sugars," or, "WARNING: This product contains high levels of added corn syrup/sugar."

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Robert Singleton Robert Singleton Robert Singleton from Santa Cruz, California 11m, 3w ago Pro

I totally support this. We already force tobacco and alcohol producers to do the same, and even just a cursory review of the research shows soda to be just as unhealthy in the long run. I would definitely like to see a tax as well.

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Manu Koenig Manu Koenig Manu Koenig (admin) from Santa Cruz, California 11m, 3w ago Pro

Sugar, salt and fat cause addictive cravings in our body just like other drugs. Beverage makers are reaping a profit while inflicting large scale costs on the public health. You and I have to pay for it in taxes that go to public medical services. I'd like a warning label at the very least.

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Ivette Yoshida Ivette Yoshida Ivette Yoshida from Watsonville, California 11m, 2w ago Con

Parents need to make better choices of what they buy and bring into the home and set the example. I did not grow up with soft drinks at home but was turned on to natrural juices, tea and water. To this day, those are my preferences. An occasional soft drink doesn't hurt but I also think it shouldn't be stocked in the house so it becomes a staple.

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Andrew Andrew Andrew from San Jose, California 10m ago Con

Added a link to the Freakenomics podcast on smoking. Good stuff and much of it is directly applicable to soda. The main take-aways are: unless these labels show pictures of fat people, or graphic medical conditions associated with HFCS/sugar laden drinks, they likely will not have any major impact in consumer behavior. Education and direct taxes at the register are much more effective.

I'm going to go con on this one as I think there are more effective uses of time and energy for this issue.

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Jeanne Howard Jeanne Howard Jeanne Howard from Santa Cruz, California 11m, 3w ago Pro

Sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and other negative health impacts, all with a public cost. Labeling will bring attention to this and encourage consumers to conduct further research. Education promotes healthy lifestyles. Yes to labeling.

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Russell Sterten Russell Sterten Russell Sterten (admin) from Santa Cruz, California 2w, 6d ago Neutral

This is back in the news. State Senator Monning is reintroducing this legislation. Should there be warning labels on sugary drinks?

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Andrew Andrew Andrew from San Jose, California 1w ago Con
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Again, I think this isn't an education issue. A warning label isn't what will adjust people's behavior here. You can check the facts around smoking in the US for this, and see that it is not that warning label that got us to the all time lows for smoking rates. Two things : lack of availability to areas to smoke, and price increases seem to be the most dramatic.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/why-smoking-rates-are-at-new-lows/?_r=0

I maintain the label is a waste of time, money, and government effort.

EDIT: unless you make the label, graphic, large, and really grab attention, it doesn't work well. It didn't work well for smoking, and I assume we are talking a similar type warning label here.

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