Health Groups Urge Surgeon General's Report on Soda

Sugary Drinks' Contribution to Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease Warrants Call to Action from Nation's Top Doc, Groups Say

July 19, 2012

Nearly 100 national and local health, medical, and consumer organizations, several municipal public health departments, and more than 20 prominent individuals are calling on the Surgeon General of the United States to issue a report on the health effects of soda and other sugary drinks. Citing the importance of the 1964 landmark Surgeon General's report on tobacco use, the groups and individuals say a report on soda would appraise the health-damaging effects and alert health professionals, government officials, and consumers to the public-health impact of over-consuming sugary drinks.

"Soda and other sugary drinks are the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity, a major contributor to coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, and a cause of psychosocial problems," the groups wrote in a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. "Yet, each year, the average American drinks about 40 gallons of sugary drinks, all with little, if any, nutritional benefit."

The groups say that soda and sugary drinks have a devastating effect on the health of young people in particular. Each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60-percent increased risk of overweight in children, according to one important study. Type 2 diabetes, which used to occur primarily in middle-aged and older adults, is now becoming more common among teens. Though soda consumption has declined somewhat in recent years, consumption is still dangerously high, according to the letter. Even almost half of two- and three-year-olds consume sugary drinks every day, according to the group.

"Previous reports and calls to action from the Surgeon General, on topics as varied as tobacco, underage drinking, and obesity, have helped galvanize policymakers at all levels of government," said Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Unlike just about any other product in the food supply, sugar-based drinks are directly connected to obesity and diet-related disease. Reducing their consumption should be one of the main pillars of the government’s prevention strategy."

The call for a Surgeon General's report on soda and sugary drinks was organized by the CSPI, and included the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, Consumer Federation of America, National Hispanic Medical Association, Prevention Institute, the Trust for America's Health, and Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Public health departments in Boston, El Paso, New York City, and Philadelphia also signed the letter to Sebelius.


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