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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

CMA Introduces Bill that Calls for Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks; Based on UCSF Medical Student's Idea

The California Medical Association (CMA) introduced SB 1000 that would place a simple warning on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.

The label, developed by a panel of national nutrition and public health experts, would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

State Senator William Monning (D-Carmel) will carry the bill and is backed by a collation that includes the CMA, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the California Black Health Network, and the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.

The idea for the bill came from Tom Gaither, a first-year UCSF medical student. Gaither says the idea came to him after teaching high school for two years in San Jose. “Kids would come to class with a soda or sports drink,” he said. “So many of the kids didn’t know how bad surgery beverages were for them.” He found himself so worked up about the subject that he taught a semester on sugar in foods for one of his classes.

Sugary drinks are the biggest contributor of added calories in the American diet, responsible for 43% of the 300 additional calories added to the average American’s daily consumption over the last 30 years. Drinking just one soda a day can increase an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27% and a child’s by 55%. Research shows that a soda or two a day increases the risk of diabetes by 26%.

The health implications are felt most acutely by California’s communities of color, which are the largest consumers of these sugary drinks. Unless the obesity epidemic is reversed, one in three children born after 2000—and nearly half of Latino and African-American children—will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

Click here to view the complete information on SB 1000.

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