California could become the first state to issue warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks. A new bill proposes the idea of carrying warning labels similar to the health warning labels on cigarette packs. Medical experts say the high-calorie beverages are to blame for an epidemic of childhood obesity.

The labels would read: “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay” and would appear on sodas and juice drinks with sugar added, and 75 or more calories per 12 ounces.  The legislation is backed by several public health advocacy groups.

“When the science is this conclusive, the state of California has a responsibility to take steps to protect consumers,” state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said at a news conference including the California Medical Assn.


The new bill would require a warning label to be put on sugary and high-calorie drinks.
Image: Shutterstock

The bill has met resistance from the U.S food and beverage industry.

CalBev, the Calfornia arm of the American Beverage association released the following statement.

“We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue; however, it is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, only 4.0 percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda.”

In 2005, the state of California banned junk food and sodas from public schools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than a third of all U.S. adults and nearly 17 percent of children between the ages of two and nineteen are obese. A study commissioned by the World Health Organization in 2013 showed that drinking one soda a day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27 percent and a child’s by 55 percent.