First it was New York who tried to declare a ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces and now California wants to place a warning label on all sodas over a certain size in an attempt to control the obesity crisis.
The sponsors of the bill state:
Under the bill, all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 calories or more per 12 ounces must carry a label that reads: State of California Safety Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. The requirement would effectively apply to any sugar-sweetened bottled and canned sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, vitamin water and iced teas.
I understand the desire of legislators to fix the obesity crisis in America but I don’t think a warning label on soda is going to fix the problem. After all, how many people actually read the nutrition label on soda? I bet it’s a pretty small number. Who picks up a bottle of coke from the gas station and immediately turns it over to see if it is high in sugar or notice a small warning label? Not many people.
And aside from the small number of people who would actually read the label, people who want to drink soda are going to drink soda regardless of a warning label. Warning labels on cigarettes haven’t stopped people from smoking completely even when coupled with overwhelming evidence of the health risks associated with smoking.
Sodas contribute to obesity but they aren’t the only cause of obesity. If we are going to put warning labels on sodas why not on every other food that has added sugar? I can see it now. Warning labels on cereal, granola bars, candy, gum, other sugary beverages, ice cream, pastries, desserts, etc.
I’m sorry but a warning label doesn’t seem to be necessary. Instead, I think we need to educate people on the how’s and why’s sugary foods and drinks are bad for them and for their kids.
When I see a mom and her kids walking out of Wal-Mart swigging 20 ounce bottles of orange sodas and colas, I cringe. I often wonder if the mom even realizes how many calories/sugar those bottles contain. I’d wager a guess that she doesn’t or if she does, she doesn’t care.
The problem is that the nutritional information is right there on all the high sugar foods I previously mentioned, colas included. But obviously that doesn’t stop a lot of people from eating or drinking those products. It didn’t make a difference for me when I was 300 pounds.
I knew where to find the nutrition label but often ignored it. You see, I wanted the food or drink and the calories didn’t stop me, nor did the sugar or fat content. In fact, research has shown that calories being posted in restaurants doesn’t seem to sway the patrons much at all.
So what’s the solution if not warning labels? I think education is a key factor here. We can’t legislate good behavior as much as the government likes to think it can.
I talk to my children about nutrition and I’m not afraid of speaking up in a group of people to be the dissenting voice when everyone else is raving about some “terrible for you” but really tasty food. I don’t always win friends that way but I don’t want to just go along with the crowd and let other people think I agree that Twinkies are great and the Death by Chocolate dessert at the local restaurant is the perfect good for you.
Education can start at home, be supported in schools, take place in offices, and be passed around from person to person. But all the education in the world can’t make someone stop drinking sugary drinks if they don’t want to. That has to be an individual choice driven by a desire to make healthier choices for themselves and their family.
I don’t think cola is the evil of the world. After all, colas have been around for 200 years and obesity is a relatively recent problem. The problem is that we drink too much cola, we eat too much junk, and we tend to consume large portions of whatever it is we are eating or drinking.
Warning labels won’t make a difference in my opinion. They are an attempt to further regulate our lives, which I am opposed to. Instead, let’s band together and keep spreading the message of healthy eating and teach people why it matters.
What are your thoughts? Diane