Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Soda Companies Pressured To Put Warning Labels On Products To Curb The Tide Of Obesity

A public advocacy group called Center for Science in the Public Interest led by executive director Dr. Michael Jacobson is pushing for warning labels to be placed on all sugary soft drinks to inform the public that drinking too much of them will bring about obesity and other related problems.

In a petition that was delivered to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, Jacobson said the risk of developing diabetes and having tooth decay are especially needed at this time when the obesity rates are skyrocketing and children are getting fatter at younger ages.

"Soda pop used to be an occasional treat. Now it's an everyday beverage," Jacobson said.

Citing government statistics from 2002, Jacobson claims teenage boys drink two 12-ounce can of soda per day while teenage girls drink about 1.33 cans per day.

Not surprisingly, food and beverage company leaders strongly oppose putting warning labels on their products because obesity can come about in varying ways and all the nutritional information about products is already listed, including calories, fat, carbohydrates as well as the ingredients.

American Beverage Association (ABA) President Susan Neeley said in a statement posted on their web site that "individuals, not the government, are in the best position to make the food and beverage choices that are right for them."

In recent years, soft drink manufacturers have attempted to scale down their product into smaller packaging to help consumers desiring less of their product. Additionally, many soda companies have introduced more diet soda offerings to their list of products to attract the people who want to avoid sugar altogether.

Diet Coke with Splenda and Coca-Cola Zero were both introduced this year by the Coca-Cola Company in addition to Diet Coke with Lime.

Jacobson says this is not good enough and that warning labels on sugary sodas, which he describes as "liquid candy," are needed to "push the public to a healthier diet as aggressively as the soft drink industry, the fast food industry and others push people in the other direction."

An official response from any of the major soda companies or the FDA has not been issued.

But that didn't stop Rush Limbaugh from discussing it on his national radio talk show on Wednesday. In fact, he was defending the soda companies from having to post any labels on their product if they don't want to.

Limbaugh stated that people should be allowed to have a "good time drinking soda pop" if they want to and nobody should be able to tell them otherwise because there is nothing wrong with sugar.

"This is sugar! We're talking about sugar," Limbaugh exclaimed on his program. "We're not talking about a killer substance here."

Nevertheless, sugar is being examined closer as one of the leading causes of obesity despite years of warnings against consuming fat. But it appears that sugar, not fat is more responsible for the obesity problem in America today.

Limbaugh added: "A kid certainly can certainly drink three cans of Coke a day. That's when a kid can metabolize. That's when a kid can do things."

This kind of thinking is exactly why children have become as obese as they have in 2005. While I agree with Limbaugh that the government should not be stepping in and dictating placing warning labels on products such as sugar, I do think more education about sugar's harmful effects should be distributed to the general public.

Sadly, the truth about sugar has been silenced. It is heralded in American society as a completely acceptable product because it is found in virtually every food we eat. Even its evil twin cousin high fructose corn syrup is found in most sugary foods and beverages because it is so cheap for manufacturers to add to their products.

Towards the end of his program, Limbaugh reveals what he fears regarding this issue of posting warning labels on soda.

"Don't you understand what all this a precursor for? This is just a precursor for the trial lawyers to move in and start filing suit, inventing all kinds of medical problems brought on by years and years of consumption of this stuff without proper warning," Limbaugh noted. "I can just see the endless parade of fat kids being dragged into court, waddling in there, barely able to breathe(wheezing) 'I drank... (wheezing) I drank...' and dies on the witness stand, and there goes Coke and Pepsi."

Despite Limbaugh's knack for being melodramatic and his sense of showmanship, I believe he is probably warranted in his concerns. But that still does not discount the fact that sugar is harmful to the health of Americans of all ages. While it may be the personal responsibility of the individual to determine what is healthy for them or not, there is a clear void of information about the role of sugar in causing obesity.

Why else is the Sugar Association coming out so strongly against sugar alternatives, especially Splenda, over the past eight months? The indelible connection between sugar addiction and obesity is becoming more and more apparent as the days and weeks go by.

The debate over the merits of sugar and artificial sweeteners is not going away anytime soon. Stay tuned for more updates and information about this topic at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb." Comments? Feel free to leave them below or you can e-mail me at


Blogger Connie said...

Thanks, Jimmy, for pointing out what Rush Limbaugh said about this development.

While I knew about the petition, I missed the talk show host's horribly misinformed comments!

Sad how little people know about sugar's dangers!! Which is why we have such an important role to play in educating the public.


8/04/2005 10:33 AM  

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