Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks – good idea, bad idea???

Last Friday, California’s State Senate Appropriations Committee voted (5-2) to pass a measure requiring distributors of bottled or canned sugary drinks to put a warning label on their beverage container.

SB1000 would require a warning label to be placed on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces.

Not too surprisingly, America’s soda pop producers were not amused. The California Beverage Association issued the following statement.

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue,” the group said in a statement, calling the proposed bill “misleading” claiming that “just 6 percent of calories in the average American’s diet come from soda, fruit, sports and energy drinks, compared with 11 percent in sweets and deserts. Moreover, it said most calories are consumed in the form of fats, oils and starches in food”.

Translation: We agree that our product is crap and directly contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer, but…we’re not as bad as the guys who sell candy bars, potato chips, pizza, etc.

What happens next?

  • SB1000 requires a majority vote of the full Senate before it can become law. That vote is scheduled to occur in the next two weeks. In the meantime…
  • Supporters of the bill (California Medical Association, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the California Black Health Network and supporting Senators) will issue public statements supporting the bill and it’s health & financial benefits.
  • Critics of the bill (California Beverage Association) will defend their position on health promotion, question the effectiveness of warning labels and raise the issue of potential job losses due to the cost associated with placing warning labels on their products.

Will the Bill become Law?

Who knows?  Going up against the processed food industry is no easy task. Pepsico and Coca Cola have lobbied and defeated previous labelling and “soda tax” bills in states across the nation.

Still, proponents of the bill are hopeful. California’s Democrats hold a super-majority in the Legislature and are traditionally more supportive of this type of motion.

Will the Warning Labels Have Any Effect?

Once again…who knows?

In a recent study,  researchers concluded that if the USA had adopted cigarette package warning labels in 2012 (when Canada enacted tobacco labelling legislation), the number of adult smokers in the USA would have decreased by 5.3–8.6 million by 2013….meaning that there would have been 5.3–8.6 million Americans with a reduced chance of dying from lung cancer.

Health warnings on cigarette packages saved lives in Canada and would have saved lives in the U.S. of A. And that sounds like a pretty darn good return on investment.

So….is it really such a jump in logic to assume that health warnings on sugary drinks would also reduce consumption of said sugary drinks…thereby improving American rates of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer???

Are all Warning Labels equally effective?

After looking at Canada’s gnarly anti-smoking images, I started wondering if California’s proposed sugary drink warning label….

…will be as effective?

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Will a text-based warning be as effective as pictures of cancerous lungs and impotent cigarettes?

Methinks that California’s legislators need to go back to ye olde Photoshop drawing board and bedazzle their warning labels.

Let’s see if we can come up with something better

Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks

Nothing like a little parental awareness (guilt?) to help spark better shopping habits.

Somehow, I doubt that Pepsi will re-work their logo to create this custom sugary drink warning label.

If morbid obesity isn’t a strong enough warning, how about neuropathic foot ulcers and leg amputations???

obesity-warning-fruit-juice

There is nothing like a juice box full of chemicals & high fructose corn syrup to show that you don’t give a shit about your kid.

What do YOU think?

  • Are warning labels on sugary drinks a good idea?
  • Is a text-only label as effective as labels with scary pictures?
  • Can you come up with any better labels?
  • Would you like to see these labels where you live?
  • If so, would you be willing to email your gov’t representative RIGHT NOW and tell them that you want warning labels on sugary drinks?

Reference

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3 thoughts on “Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks – good idea, bad idea???

  1. That was my sad attempt at a joke.

    Whenever I get into an online discussion about gov’t intervention re food labelling (or some other health intervention) it usually devolves pretty quickly from a discussion about the specific proposal to general accusations about how the gov’t is out to control us…take away our guns, etc…

    I believe this phenomena is related to Godwin’s Law – “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1″ 

  2. I love the idea as it might help people be a bit more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, although many people wouldn’t stop just like the packaging on cigarettes.

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