Look around and you’ll find warning labels on lots of household items: alcoholic beverages, drain uncloggers, pesticides and pool toys (not to mention cigarettes and chainsaws). Now, California lawmakers are proposing to add one more item to the list: sugary soft drinks. A bill to that effect recently passed the California state Senate, and is presently headed to the Assembly. If approved by both houses and signed by the governor, it would require sugary beverages to carry a warning label.
The proposed label would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” It would appear on drink packaging and vending machines. While some may feel it’s an infringement on personal choice, recent polling seems to show that the tide of public opinion may have turned toward recognizing the potential health dangers of sugary drinks.
How real are those dangers? The medical groups sponsoring the bill (including the California Medical Association) point to numerous scientific studies showing, among other things, that:
- Drinking one soda per day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27 percent — and for a child, the likelihood is doubled!
- Drinking one or two sodas per day increases the risk of developing type II diabetes by 26 percent.
- People who drink two to three sodas per day are 2.75 times more likely to have a heart attack.
- Drinking sugary beverages daily for only two weeks increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 20 percent; over a longer period, it has even worse effects.
- Children who consume sugary beverages are much more likely to develop tooth decay.
No matter where you stand on the debate over warning labels, you should understand the potential dangers of consuming foods and beverages with added sugar. For years, dentists have been cautioning people to limit their intake of sugary treats, including sodas and other sweets. Initially, our warnings came from the standpoint of oral health. Now, we have evidence that many other health problems have the same cause. We want to share this information with you because we’re concerned about your overall health — not just your oral health. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Think Before You Drink.”