October 31, 2014

Consumer Groups Ask For Surgeon General Report on Sugary Drinks

A coalition of consumer groups, experts, and health organizations have written a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, asking for a report on sugary drinks. The groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association, would like to see a report like the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health.

Experts are concerned that these beverages are increasing the obesity rate in children. In fact, one study found that “each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60 percent increased risk of overweight in children.” In addition, “alarmingly, type 2 diabetes, which used to occur primarily in middle-aged and older adults, is now becoming more common among teens, especially those who are low-income and minority.”

The letter states that sugary drinks are now a routine daily beverage of choice for Americans, instead of an occasional treat. Pop and colas are promoted as a key to happiness and fun in aggressive marketing campaigns.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report in May 2012 called Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention that recommended adopting policies to reduce over consumption of soda and other sugary drinks. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that consumers drink water instead of sugary drinks. The health organizations believe that a Surgeon General’s Report on this matter could be as effective as the smoking report, bringing attention to the consequences of sugary drink consumption.

A report would also be the basis for policy measures and goals for federal, state, and local governments to improve health and reduce health care costs. The letter states that the increasing obesity rate is actually a national security issue, since 27% of America’s youth are ineligible for military service because they are overweight.

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