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California Wants Sugary Drinks to be Sold with Warning Labels

Update Date: Feb 14, 2014 10:05 AM EST
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Democratic Senator William Monning wants to make California the first state ever to require warning labels on soda and other sugary beverages. Monning proposed his bill this past Thursday stating that any beverage that contains added sweeteners made with 75 or more calories per every 12 ounces should carry a warning label. According to FOX News, the label would read, "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," Monning expressed "As with tobacco and alcohol warnings, this legislation will give Californians essential information they need to make healthier choices."

The American Beverage Association's California branch, CalBev has stated that the beverages' nutritional value has always been clear. The association had participated in the "Clear on Calories" campaign, started in 2010 that detailed the product's calorie count and ingredients. The association stated that even though obesity is a very serious disease, Monning's proposal is misleading people Americans get more sugar from sweets and desserts than they do from soda and sugary drinks. They reported that soda, fruits, sports and energy drinks only make up six percent of the calories consumed in an average American's diet whereas sweets and desserts make up 11 percent.

"It is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, only 4.0 percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda," CalBev said according to Reuters.

The medical groups supporting the bill have presented very different data. According to these groups, sugary drinks have become the largest source of extra calories within the past 30 years. The groups stated that a soda a day increases an adult's risk of being overweight by 27 percent. For a child, the risk of being overweight increases by 55 percent.

"It is not the responsibility of industry to protect the public health. It is the responsibility of government," he told the Associated Press, noting that consumers could still choose to drink the beverages. "We believe it's an appropriate role for government to play."

The bill is currently backed by the California Medical Association and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. The bill is also sponsored by the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and the California Black Health Network.

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