Sugar is one of our biggest enemies: You name the illness, and you can bet sugar is associated with it. And, as we know, it can be found in harmful quantities in soda. Following in the footsteps of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, politicians have recently been taking a stand against how soda is being sold.
Last week, Berkeley, California passed the nation's first soda tax in order to curb the consumption of sugary drinks. Now, Brooklyn Assemblyman Karim Camara has proposed a state law that would require every can of soda sold to have a warning — similar to the one found on cigarettes — to warn consumers of potential health risks.
The proposed label would read: "SAFETY WARNING: DRINKING BEVERAGES WITH ADDED SUGAR CONTRIBUTES TO OBESITY, DIABETES AND TOOTH DECAY." Drinks that don't contain added sugar, like 100% fruit juices or diet drinks, would be exempt.
If the bill is approved, New York would be the first state to require warning labels on soda.
Camara spoke to the New York Post, "People in the beverage industry at the time [of Mayor Bloomberg's proposal] said, 'We don't need a tax. We need education.' My proposal calls for education." He then called the bill "a moral obligation."
How did the beverage industry react? Not so well, as you can imagine. Chris Gindlesperger, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, told the Post, "A warning label on soft drinks will do nothing to change behavior or educate people about healthy lifestyles. Are you not going to label a glazed doughnut? This is more about politics than policy."
Well, according to the Health Department, more than half of adults in the city are either overweight (34 percent) or obese (22 percent) — and it all begins early in life. Right now, one in five kindergarten students is considered obese. Clearly, not enough people know just how harmful soda can be.
So what's the harm in a bit more transparency from Big Soda? We don't necessarily think this bill will solve obesity issues in the city, as there are so many other factors (for example, how cheap fast food and soda are), but education is always a good thing. Camara isn't trying to make our dietary choices for us; he's trying to keep us informed.
What do you think of the proposed bill?