Last week, California’s senate passed the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, which will mandate sugar-sweetened beverage to display a warning label as depicted above. The measure still needs to pass the state Assembly and be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. If all goes well, we can expect to see the warning labels as early as next year.
According to the bill, “sugar-sweetened beverage” means any sweetened nonalcoholic beverage, carbonated or noncarbonated, sold for human consumption that has added caloric sweeteners and contains 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces. 100% fruit and vegetable juices will be exempt.
Bill Monning, the senator who authored the bill had this to say:
“Liquid sugar is a significant and unique driver of obesity, preventable diabetes, and tooth decay. Some people accuse this (bill) of nanny governing and yet it is the government that’s responsible to protect the public health and safety of its people.”
We couldn’t agree more. Public health policy is not about America becoming a communist, or even socialist state. It’s about balancing free enterprise with people’s freedom to live healthy lives. Regulating an industry to protect the public is not about limiting choices, it’s about leveling the playing field.
The American Beverage Association is in damage control mode. The standard talking points are employed: No single cause of obesity / sugar is found in many foods / limiting Americans’ freedoms / etc…
The Cokes and Pepsis of the world have endless funding when it comes to marketing their sugar water. Their brands are so powerful that they have co-opted health and nutrition organizations, and sadly some professionals too. On an individual level, Americans don’t stand a chance. That’s where public health measures come in.
Can you picture yourself sitting in a smoke filled office surrounded by smoking co-workers? Or driving 60 mph down the highway unbuckled? Or renovating your house with paint filled with lead?
There is ample and compelling evidence today, despite the beverage industry’s shenanigans, to point to soft drinks as the largest single contributor to children’s sugar intake. Do not let them buy time like cigarette manufacturers did.