California — it's a land of sun, celebrities, and now at the forefront for combatting illnesses related to obesity. The Golden State has been a step ahead of many other states when it comes to issues like healthy-food initiatives, and now a new step toward cleaner eating is underway. According to public policy makers, they are pushing for a new bill in Sacramento, which would require that all sodas carry warning labels for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese. This costs, on average, $190 billion dollars in government spending to treat obesity and conditions associated with them.
In 2005, California banned junk foods from being sold in schools, and they plan on continuing to combat childhood obesity with their efforts. However, backlash from the beverage industry and lawmakers is present. The American Beverage Association disagreed with this proposed ban saying in a statement that it is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain: “Only 4.0 percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda.” While this statement might be true, unlike other sugary foods and drinks, soda provides no other nutritional value.
However, other countries have taken initiatives to ban these high calorie foods. Earlier this year, Mexico began taxing soda in order to combat their ever-growing obesity rates, which account for 32 percent of the population. According to the National Institute of Public Health, “every year, Mexico's 118 million people drink 163 liters of soda each, or nearly half a liter a day," The Guardian reported. “A 10 percent tax should reduce that to 141 liters per year, preventing up to 630,000 cases of diabetes by 2030.”
Moreover, former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, tried to keep large sugary drinks out of restaurants in 2012 with his soda ban in order to reduce the amount of sugar that many New Yorkers consumed. However, it was appealed earlier in 2013 on the grounds that it was deemed unconstitutional — the Court Of Appeals plans on reviewing the case again this year.
What has so many people up in arms? What is the real issue behind soda and its health risks? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition people who consumed more than one soda per day had an increased risk of stroke. On average Americans consume approximately 2.6 glasses of soda per day according a Gallup Poll. Not only does overconsumption lead to obesity, but even one glass per day can increase the risk of diabetes.
California lawmakers believe that is their responsibility to protect and inform their citizens. "When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers," said Democratic State Sen. Bill Monning, who sponsored the bill, in an interview with Reuters UK.