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Warning Labels for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Jun 03, 2014

I’ve always seen California as a cutting edge state to lead the nation in heath advocacy. Have you heard about SB 1000? It is the “Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act” requiring all sweetened non-alcoholic drinks (over 75 calories per 12 oz serving) to have a warning like the one below on all bottles, cans, vending machines, dispensers, and restaurants:

This is a very similar approach to the tobacco legislation that requires labels on all nicotine-containing products stating that it can cause cancer. Even if you don’t smoke, you have seen this warning. It is public health education that spurs conversation and could potentially make people question why they are drinking something with a health warning. A label also still allows for personal choice. It is similar to the legislation that requires nutrition facts on food items or the legislation in some cities to add calories to menus.

Though some of my diabetes patients understand that sugary beverages are not the best choice for them, others are very confused and think a couple a day is fine because it is “much better” than their family members who drink 7 or more per day. The media message of beautiful healthy celebrities drinking sugary beverages and the excessive availability of sugary beverages give them the green light in our culture. Surely if the majority of choices in a hospital waiting room vending machine are sugar sweetened beverages, it can’t be that bad, right?

Just a label isn’t necessarily going to reverse the obesity epidemic, but it is a harmless piece of education that may spur some to question their decision and slowly shift the perception of sweetened beverages.

This is a great summary video of the SB 1000 legislation and co-sponsors:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I1UrzRwPM4

Here is a link to a fact sheet to discuss with legislators of your state:

http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/resources/warninglabel/SodaLabels_presskit_FACTSHEET_FINAL.pdf

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