Sugar

Soda Warning Labels Could Soon Be a Thing in California

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cobalt123/Flickr

Sugar is bad for you. Your mom probably warned you that it would rot your teeth. We now know that excessive sugar consumption can lead to much more insidious health problems, such as Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. It's also likely to make you fat. 

I wish Americans would cut down on sugar (and food companies would stop adding sugar to everything from soup to bread to barbecue sauce). But I also wish American politicians would stop trying to enact futile, overreaching policies to force sugar consumption down. The latest of these comes from California, where legislators are rushing to be the first in the nation to mandate warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages. 

Much like the warning labels that appear on cigarette packaging, these labels would read:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

If enacted, California Senate Bill 1000 would require this warning be added to the front label of all beverages that contain added sweeteners and more than 75 calories per 12 ounces. It would also be required on self-serve soda dispensers and on restaurant menus. The measure was approved by the Senate Health Committee this week.

"The bill is a common sense measure that is overwhelmingly supported by the public," said California Sent. Bill Monning (D-Carmel). Common sense?

Sure, it is common sense that sugar can contribute to weight gain and tooth decay—which makes the proposed labels all the more nonsensical. Just in case you forgot, this thing you're consuming—like many, many things at the grocery store—could lead to weight gain and other bad shit if you have too much of it! Um, okay? Thanks for the obvious and unnecessary heads-up!

Ostensibly, the measure has broad bipartisan support in California. A February 2014 poll found nearly 75 percent of California voters said they support warning labels on sugary beverages (but that poll was also paid for by the California Endowment, a group campaigning in favor of the labels). 

"The public is really supportive of disclosure in various forms—they tend to believe the public health community, and when they issue health warnings, they want that information out and known to the public," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the nonpartisan research organization that handled the California Endowment poll. 

Disclosure in this case, however, requires prominent advertising the amounts of sugar and calories in a beverage—not vague, mealy-mouthed scaremongering. Monning's proposed soda warning labels don't actually disclose any concrete relevant information at all.

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  1. Back when I was a tobacco smoker I’d roll my own to save money. Well, the loose tobacco packages always had this warning that began with “This product is known to the state of California…”

    I was like, whew, I’m not in California so I guess I don’t have to worry about it.

    1. I always go for the “causes birth defects” packs of smokes. What do I care?

    2. You’re in demand at parties with that skill. One guy found it very amusing that I rolled him a joint that looked like a Lucky Strike.

  2. It’s better than Bloomberg, I guess. Can we put it on the cardboard case for the pop, er, soda?

    Are we stuck with those ugly stickers on the side of the bottle?

  3. On top of other reasons for stupidity, it’s bad science. It implies the incorrect “knowledge” that most people seem to have that sugar causes diabetes. It can’t. Sugar, if consumed in large quantities, can lead to weight gain which leads to diabetes, but it doesn’t cause it by itself.

    If they’re going to put warning labels on soda for this crap, they can put it on pretty much anything, right? (Yeah, yeah, I know)

    1. Well, eating/drinking any high-glycemic index substances (including most breads) can cause blood sugar to spike, which ramps up insulin production, which over time can dull insulin receptors and lead to type 2 diabetes. Other things, like excessive weight, can also lead to excess insulin production. So, yeah: Pretty much any carbohydrate, sweetened food, or food at all could be considered “contributing to diabetes”

      1. WARNING: STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT SPAGHETTI CAN CAUSE DIABETES IN COMBINATION WITH OTHER FACTORS AND CAN, UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, STRANGLE PEOPLE WHEN BOUND TOGETHER LIKE A ROPE.

        1. Get this important spaghetti labeling language to California, asap!

  4. I think they should add photos like they do on packs of cigarettes.

    Maybe Chris Christie and Oprah

  5. Oh for fuck’s sake.

    I don’t want to live on this planet any more.

  6. The public is really supportive of disclosure in various forms?they tend to believe the public health community

    Well, there’s another problem. Maybe we need warning labels for that, too.

  7. Why does it have to be “added” sugar? Can’t the sugar in, say, orange juice do the same things?

    1. Dude, it’s refined sugar that’s bad for you because it’s refined.

      Grape juice or some other natural sugar is good because it’s natural.

    2. That is kind of stupid. OJ has as much sugar in it as soda and it is just as bad for you. Sugar is sugar.

      I think there is a bit of a point to be made about added sugar in things that you don’t generally think of as sugary. But it is up to people to read the label if they care about that.

      1. Yeah, but they grow oranges in Calif. Sugar crops…I’d have to research them, but I don’t think Calif. when I think sugar cane or beets.

  8. I suggest that if California wants stupid, unnecessary labels, it should manufacture and apply those labels itself. The state doesn’t appear to care about spending money, so why not?

  9. If that many Californians are concerned about the sugar in soda, how much good can the labels realistically be expected to do? Oh, I remember now: These things aren’t actually about doing good.

    Also, I have an opportunity to say that Hitler ate sugar.

  10. This is going to be a re-run of the prop 65 warnings- instead of discouraging use of things that trigger the warning, it simply becomes so ubiquitous that everyone ignores it. Because they are on *everything*.

    1. But everyone doesn’t ignore it. Companies sweat over it, and certain other parties make money from it.

  11. “The bill is a common sense measure that is overwhelmingly supported by the public,”

    If you doubt this, you’re worse than Hitler, Ghengis Khan, and Ming the Merciless, all rolled into one.

  12. The public is really supportive of disclosure in various forms?they tend to believe the public health community

    Thank a teechur.

  13. If your automotive chemicals don’t have some sort of “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer” (or worse) you may assume it is completely ineffective.

    1. I don’t know why anyone bothers doing science anymore, since the California legislature is clearly the fountain of all scientific knowledge.

      1. Truly, their intellect is dizzying. In fact, they should have a warning label on such legislation.

  14. “We now know that excessive sugar consumption can lead to much more insidious health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.”

    We also know Elizabeth Nolan Brown is a retard who can apparently be made to believe about anything.

    You are the fucking WORST ENB, could you possibly swallow any more stupidity outside of your fleet week vacation?

    1. Sugar is definitely no good for ruminants.

    2. Wow. You need a calmative.

  15. A ridiculous idea that, like other posters have said, will likely lead people to ignore more serious warnings. If everything’s dangerous, then nothing’s dangerous.

    I do have no doubt, though, that sugary soft-drinks are a leading contributor to obesity. I was in a 7-11 last night and wanted a sugar-free drink. There were about five six-foot cases of soft drinks, every single one of them loaded with sugar calories, and even the slurpee machine seemed to have given up on the low-calorie option, with six high-sugar offerings as the only choices. So obviously if that’s what they are stocking, that’s what people are buying — and I don’t think the average Joe has any idea that one coke is half a meal’s worth of calories.

    I’ve talked to people who insist that only food has calories that make you fat — nothing you drink can possibly be at fault, it’s not food! But one 20-oz sprite has more calories and sugar than an ice-cream cone.

    1. And even the “healthy” options, like juices, teas, sports drinks, etc., are as or more loaded with sugar than the sodas.

  16. Make sure you put those labels on wine too. Alcohol is a sugar. And some wines have added sugar! See how quickly that amendment to the bill causes the whole thing to crash and burn.

    1. And bagels. And beer. And saltine crackers. And orange juice. And….

      1. Maybe we should all go on that sunlight diet.

    2. Alcohol is not a sugar, although technically all sugars are alcohols.

  17. A warning label for sugar? I don’t know. Seems a little extreme. Sugar isn’t the best thing for your body, but consuming it in small amounts isn’t a big deal, while consuming drugs in small amounts is. I think it’s too much. repairing cracks in concrete

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