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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Should sugary drinks carry warning labels?

Sugar was in the news this week.   California is proposing sugary drinks come with a warning label.  A state senator in the California legislature proposed a bill that all beverages containing 75 calories of added sugar per 12 ounces be labeled:   State of California Safety Warning:  Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Why did Senator Monning introduce this bill?  He notes that research has shown a link between sugary drinks and health problems.    The California branch of the American Beverage Association is not apparently in support of the proposed legislation.  They note sugar drinks account for only 6% of our calories.  However, medical groups counter this by saying sugary drinks are a large share of our added sugar calories.   According to medical groups, one soda a day boosts an adult’s changes of being overweight by 27% and a child’s by 55%, and it can increase the risk of diabetes by 26%.   (California lawmaker proposes adding health warning labels to sodas).  

Regardless of whether or not sugary drinks come with warning labels, everyone should focus on reducing the ADDED sugars in our diet.  Note it is the sugar added to foods, not sugar naturally present in foods.   Fresh fruits have fructose, a sugar, naturally present and not added.  Milk has lactose, also naturally present and not added.   So what can you do to cut the Added sugar in your diet?

  1. Read the label – if sugar is the first ingredient, the food is high in added sugar       
  2. Buy low sugar or no sugar cereals.  Look for 5 grams of sugar or less.  Or buy plain oatmeal and if you want to, add a teaspoon of table sugar to sweeten it. 
  3. Drink fewer or no sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks.  Switch to 100% fruit juice, fat-free milk, unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee or water.

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