France is the latest nation to impose a so-called fat tax on sugary beverages (except for zero-calorie diet drinks), while American campaigns to curb the consumption of non-diet sugary beverages continues.
Los Angeles county just launched a public awareness campaign, its first aimed at 'sugar-loaded' beverages.
LA's move follows a high-profile campaign earlier this year by New York City targeting soda consumption, citing statistics such as few sugary drinks a day adds up to 93 packets of sugar and leads to serious health issues and disease.
Sugary drinks are the number one source of calories in the average American diet and health advocates are still reeling from the recent rejection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of a pilot proposal banning soda from New York food stamp purchases proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Despite such efforts, more than 50% of Americans still drink too much soda with the highest consumption among minorities, the poor and the young, according to a recent study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The beverage industry chalked it up as a victory while advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) announced a new advertising campaign, “Life’s Sweeter With Fewer Sugary Drinks.”
The goal is to “decrease consumption of soda and sugary drinks by about two-thirds—closer to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 3 cans per person per week,” CSPI says.
Public health departments in five U.S. cities including N&C and LA, as well as 110 local and national health groups, are cooperating on the campaign according to Mediapost, which adds that the goal is “to reduce average U.S. consumption of all kinds of sugar-containing beverages, including juice drinks, iced teas, lemonades and energy and sports drinks, to about three 12-ounce cans or 450 calories per person per week by 2020.”
The larger goals of the campaign are aimed at reducing the “risks of overweight and obesity, which promote diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and many other health problems. Reducing the consumption of soda and other sugary drinks would be a major public health victory and would help reduce health care costs for all levels of government,” CSPI said in a statement.
A campaign website, fewersugarydrinks.org, provides information and resources for effecting policy changes, action ideas, promotional materials and press releases…and of course, there’s a Facebook page.
The American Beverage Association countered in a statement, quoted by the Chicago Tribune, that “sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving health issues like obesity and diabetes. In fact, recently published data from CDC researchers show that sugar-sweetened beverages play a declining role in the American diet, even as obesity is increasing."
The ABA says its leading members now post calories on packaging and that member actions "are meaningful and will contribute far more to solving complex health issues like obesity than CSPI's sound bite solution that offers plenty of hype but no substance."
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson begs to differ: “The enormous health and economic benefits that would result from drinking less ‘liquid candy’ will be supported by a broad cross-section of America. Not since the anti-tobacco campaigns has there been a product so worthy of a national health campaign.”