Group Petitions FDA To Place Warning Labels on Soft Drinks, Other Sugary Beverages
The Center for Science in the Public Interest on Wednesday petitioned FDA to put "tobacco-style labels" on beverages that contain more than 13 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving, the Wall Street Journal reports. Coca-Cola Classic, the most popular soft drink in the U.S., has about 39 grams of sugar per 12-ounce serving.
CSPI said soft drinks and other sugary beverages are contributing to the rise in obesity and also increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 7/14). CSPI also said that drinking soft drinks instead of milk increases the risk of osteoporosis (CQ HealthBeat, 7/13).
CSPI said warning labels should be rotated regularly -- as they are with tobacco products -- to reduce the "fatigue factor" from repeatedly reading the same warnings (Wall Street Journal, 7/14). Warnings suggested by CSPI include: "To help protect your waistline and your teeth, consider switching to diet sodas or water" and "Drinking too many [nondiet] soft drinks contributes to weight gain." CSPI also petitioned FDA to add warnings for soft drinks that contain more than 10 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving. Suggested warnings would read that caffeine is a "mildly addictive stimulant drug" that is "not appropriate for children" (Hoffman, New York Post, 7/14).
CSPI's petition is supported by the American Dental Hygienists Association, the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons, the Consumer Federation of America and other groups (CQ HealthBeat, 7/13).
Michaal Jacobson, executive director for CSPI, said the group petitioned FDA because public concern about soft-drink consumption -- particularly by teenagers -- is mounting. Teenage boys who drink sugary beverages consume an average of three 12-ounce cans a day, while girls who drink the beverages consume an average of more than two cans. Jacobson said teenage drinkers of the sugary beverages get nearly 15% of their total calories from the drinks (Wall Street Journal, 7/14).
CSPI officials in their report to FDA wrote, "Parents and health officials need to recognize soft drinks for what they are -- liquid candy -- and do everything they can to return those beverages to their former role as an occasional treat" (New York Post, 7/14).
An FDA spokesperson said, "We will review the petition carefully, as we do with all FDA petitions."
The American Beverage Association, a trade group for the soft-drink industry, said the CSPI petition "patronizes consumers and lacks common sense."
Susan Neely, president and CEO of ABA, said soft-drink makers are expanding their diet-drink selection and investing millions of dollars in promoting physical fitness. ABA said the average U.S. resident consumed 18 fewer 12-ounce cans of regular soft drinks in 2004 than in 1998 (Wall Street Journal, 7/14).