Dentists, physicians, and public health advocates have announced their support for a package of California bills aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and ensuring that large beverage companies stop targeting low-income communities and increase their support of public health costs.
The California Dental Association (CDA) and California Medical Association (CMA) are backing five measures, including an array of policy proposals that would reduce the consumption of sugary beverages such as soda, energy drinks, sweet teas, and sports drinks which they say contribute to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and heart disease.
“Like the tobacco industry, companies like Coke and Pepsi are peddling harmful products to children at a significant cost to public health and our healthcare system,” said CMA president David H. Aizuss, MD. “These measures will help lower consumption and help Californians make healthier choices that prioritize public health.”
The groups report that SSBs are a major factor in preventable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 4 million California adults, costing the state billions of dollars in healthcare costs. The high levels of sugar and frequency of consumption of these beverages, which are consumed by more than 50% of 8-year-olds daily, are especially problematic, the groups add.
“The combination of high sugar content and acid makes soda especially damaging to teeth, and dentists see the devastating effects of this in our practices every day,” said CDA president Del Brunner, DDS. “Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood disease, and it affects children’s ability to chew, speak properly, and learn in school. We must do more to reverse soda’s lifelong negative effects on dental health.”
The introduced measures include:
- A bill by assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) creates a fee on sodas and other SSBs and uses the new revenue to offset health and economic costs associated with overconsumption of sugar.
- A bill by assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) bans the sale of unsealed beverages larger than 16 ounces at food service establishments, including restaurants with self-service soda fountains.
- A bill by assemblymember Rob Bonda (D-Oakland) prohibits soda companies from offering manufacturers’ coupons to its partnering manufacturers, distributors, or retailers.
- A bill by assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) prohibits placement of SSBs near the checkout counter in supermarkets, larger grocery stores, supercenters, and warehouse clubs.
- A bill by senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) requires a warning label on SSBs so consumers can make decisions that work best for them.