Sonoma County begins ad campaign against sugary drinks

  • Arlyn Cano, left, has a Gatorade beverage while talking to Allison Hall in the Doyle Library on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus, on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. Cano, who didn't realize how high the calorie and sugar levels were in Gatorade, said that a warning label on such drinks would make her think about what she's consuming. Hall gave up drinking Gatorade and sodas a year ago because of the sugar. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Arlyn Cano said she welcomes more information about what she's drinking — even if it eventually puts her off the daily Gatorade or sugar-infused water habit she's had for as long she can remember.

"Definitely," the 22-year-old Petaluma woman said of the proposal to affix a warning label to all sugary drinks sold in California. "Because it makes you more conscious, more concerned about what you are about to consume."

Pointing to studies that have linked soda and sugary drinks to epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes and other afflictions in the United States, health experts last week proposed state legislation that would put a warning label on sugary drinks much the same as those that appear on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

The label would read "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." It would be the first such warning label in the nation.

"We believe government has an absolute responsibility to protect the health and welfare of people," said the bill's author, state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel.

"We are trying to inform choice," he said. "We are not trying to take the product off the shelf."

The push comes as sugary drinks are coming under increasing fire for their role in myriad health maladies. In July, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's high profile attempt to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in restaurants and other venues was rejected in court but not before garnering national press attention.

Locally, Sonoma County officials have added their own campaigns to educate consumers about what they choose to put in their drinking glasses.

The state measure, SB 1000, would take effect by July 1, 2015 and is backed by the California Medical Association, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California and the California Black Health Network.

It is opposed by CalBev, the state arm of the American Beverage Association.

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