Date Published: 16 July 2005

US Proposals to require cans of soft drinks to carry health warnings

Health News from the United States of America (USA)

Concerns about public health, obesity, diet and nutrition are receiving more news coverage as public awareness and interest increases.

Some campaigners in the United States are so concerned about the possible long-term effects of the population (and especially teenagers) consuming current quantities of sugary drinks that legislation requiring health warnings on all cans of these products has been requested:

Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration, requesting that warning labels be put on soft drinks with more than 13 grams of refined sugar for each 12 ounces.
Jacobson argued that although the U.S. government's dietary guidelines for Americans have urged people to consume less sweetened beverages, the average American teenage boy consumes two cans of soda pop per day.

Although the calorie count of these drinks is already stated on the can, Jacobson believes that more should be done to warn consumers. His main argument centres around the dangers of obesity, but other considerations also raised include the increased risk of tooth decay, diabetes, and osteoporosis. The mildly addictive effects of caffeine (also contained in some of these drinks) is also mentioned.

The American Beverage Association (www.ameribev.org) has taken Jacobson's petition seriously, responding with a statement on its website (dated 13th July 2005, no-longer available online).

Their statement affirms the seriousness of obesity and diabetes but argues that the warning proposed by Jacobson does not make sense for various reasons - including the wide range of food products that could also be affected, e.g. pure orange juice and skimmed milk.

This debate is interesting because many consumers (smokers and non-smokers alike) object to the prominent warnings on cigarette packets in many countries and the grounds that these are excessive. The current proposal raises the question how how the public would feel about similar statements on other products.

 

Source: USA online media incl. e.g. CBS News

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