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Sugary Drink and Foods Could Contain Warning Labels

Uploaded: Nov 23, 2015
San Francisco lawmakers unanimously voted in early July 2015 to put warning labels on all advertisements for sugary beverages in the city. This would have been the first time any governing body in the US would have required such labeling. The warning was supposed to look like this:

WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.

Then, on July 27, 2015, this was reported by CBS news: The American Beverage Association has sued the city of San Francisco, claiming new legislation requiring health warning labels on sugary beverages and prohibiting advertisements of them on city property violates the First Amendment.

I'm not sure where this lawsuit is right now, but I haven't been able to find any warning labels or notices on ads in SF, so I'll assume this thing is nicely hung up. But while we wait for San Francisco to prevail, why don't we have our local city council(s) consider and vote on a similar measure right here, right now. Here's a proposal:

- All food products (except for fruits) and drinks, containing sugar or concocted or artificial sweeteners, would be required to have warning labels such as the warning proposed above by the City and County of SF, adding the words "...and eating foods...)

- All advertising for such drink/food products would have warning labels as well (similar to the ones for cigarettes.)
- And one more thing: All fast food joints would need to fly a warning label flag/banner over the front door.

I know it's hard to mess with people's (food manufacturer's) First Amendment Rights, and they will and are spending millions to defeat anything that has the slightest hint of curtailing their sugar delivery systems, but hey, we live in Innovation Valley and something like this could have a positive effect on our health. And in terms of the pursuit of happiness: you can still buy and consume all the sugar and sweeteners that you want to. But at least you would have been warned every time you pop a can filled with white death.
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Posted by NoSugarDaddy, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 23, 2015 at 5:25 pm

I would much rather support explicit labeling for "how much added sugar" on all packaged foods. The proposed warning language can be construed as scare mongering and it is no wonder it got stuck in courts. Tying this to "like cigarettes" is a losing proposition since for cigarettes it was possible to make the case that *any* smoking is harmful (including second hand), while sugar, while harmful, is hardly the same. We need to demand actual data to make informed decisions, and not waste time supporting overly broad statements which can be challenged ad infinitum through the legal system.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 23, 2015 at 9:31 pm

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

NoSugarDaddy: Thanks for your comments. Not sure that labeling "how much added sugar" would have much meaning to anyone. Who would construe "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." as scare mongering? It's just plain facts. If it scares folks off from consuming as much, that's a good thing, because it is scary. The warning language is not getting "stuck in courts", it's getting suffocated by the weight of millions of dollar bills. It's the merchants of sugary foods that are scared. What kind of actual data do we need to see? There's plenty of evidence walking the streets, in the restaurants, in the gyms, in the classrooms, in our mirrors.

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm

I think there is a recommended maximum now of sugar ... so labels could say,
for example, eat this candy bar and you have 600% of your daily recommended
allowance of sugar. That would work for me and transmit some real numbers
and metrics so that after a while even if people could not do it they would have
an idea about how much they over-indulge in sugar. I think over time it sinks

I know I used to drink sugary carbonated beverages all the time, and over time
I cut down and just cannot take them any more. A few years ago it was one or
two sips, now I can just bypass them altogether. On a hot day after a lot of work
though, I will sometimes have one of the low sugar GUS (grown up soda) sodas
that the sell at Whole Foods. Even those are too much though to drink the
whole thing any more.

The companies are not getting it. Just a while ago I saw someone was selling
the equivalent of chocolate covered Twinkies. That is moving in the wrong direction.

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