Sugar-Sweetend Beverages

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UC Berkeley Study: Sports, Energy Drinks as Unhealthy as Soda

Gatorade was one of the 21 beverages analyzed in the study. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Gatorade was one of the 21 beverages analyzed in the study. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Because of their very name, sports and energy drinks are often viewed by consumers as a healthier alternative to sugar-sweetened sodas. A study out Wednesday from UC Berkeley researchers disputes that view, finding that 21 popular beverages have high sugar content and other additives including caffeine and sodium, which may be harmful to children and teens.

“All of these beverages that are marketed to kids and teens … as if they’re healthy, are just packed with sugar,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy which commissioned the study.

In the report researchers at UC Berkeley’s Atkins Center of Weight and Health looked not only at sugar and caffeine in these 21 beverages but also scrutinized additives such as guarana, ginseng, taurine, gingko biloba and ginger extract. Continue reading

California Assembly Rejects Sugary Drink Warning Label

(KJM-427/Flickr)

(KJM-427/Flickr)

By Fenit Nirappil, Associated Press

A bill that would have made California the first state in the nation to require warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks was effectively killed Tuesday.

Sen. Bill Monning’s SB1000 failed on a 7-8 vote as his fellow Democratic lawmakers doubted whether a label would change consumer behavior. It needed 10 votes to pass.

Certain sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks would have included a label reading, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” Continue reading

California Senate Holds Soda-Labeling Bill Over Costs

(KJM-427/Flickr)

(KJM-427/Flickr)

A bill to put warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks in California is on hold for now. After clearing one committee vote earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee suspended the SB 1000 Monday, over the cost of enforcing the measure.

The proposed labels would warn people that “drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay,” and would apply to all sugary drinks that have more than 75 calories per 12 ounces.

KQED News host Mina Kim spoke with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) Monday afternoon about the committee’s decision.

The appropriations committee made the move largely over the estimated $390,000 in enforcement costs that the state will face if the bill becomes law.  While Monning said that the committee’s decision to move the bill to the so-called suspense file is “common procedure,” the Los Angeles Times reported that Monning intends to rework the bill to reduce those costs before reintroducing it for another vote later this spring. Continue reading

Sugar Is A Risk for Heart Disease, Too

A 12-ounce can of Coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. (Kansir/Flickr)

A 12-ounce can of Coke has 9 teaspoons of sugar. (Kansir/Flickr)

By Allison Aubrey, NPR

We’ve written lots lately about the potentially addictive qualities of sugar and the public policy efforts to limit consumption.

Now comes a new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which finds that Americans who consumed the most sugar — about a quarter of their daily calories — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to 7 percent of their total calories.

To translate that into a 2,000-calorie a day diet, the big sugar eaters were consuming 500 calories a day from sugar — that’s 31 teaspoons. Those who tamed their sweet tooth, by contrast, were taking in about 160 calories a day from sugar — or about 10 teaspoons per day.

Unfortunately, most Americans have a sugar habit that is pushing toward the danger zone. Continue reading

California Teens Slurping More Sugary Drinks

Arizona Green Tea is popular with teens, but this 23.5 ounce can has 51 grams -- or more than one-third of a cup -- of sugar.(Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource)

Arizona Green Tea is popular with teens, but this 23 ounce can has 51 grams — or more than one-third of a cup — of sugar. (Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource)

By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource

As the clock ticks toward a 2014 federal ban on the sale of sports drinks at high schools, California teenagers are showing an increasing fondness for the sugary beverages, with an alarming 23 percent spike in the consumption of sports and energy drinks since 2005, according to a new study.

At the same time, consumption of sugary drinks by young children is declining sharply, according to the study by researchers at the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The study tracked youth consumption of the beverages from 2005 to 2012.

Both trends – the surge in teens guzzling sugary drinks and the drop in consumption for younger children – are tied to regulations governing the sale of the beverages in California schools, said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

“Taking sodas out of schools contributed to a precipitous drop in consumption among younger kids,” he said, “while older kids have switched to sports drinks and energy drinks, and those products are available in schools.” Continue reading

New Factors in Play for Legislators Considering Statewide Soda Tax

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A soda tax failed at the ballot at two California cities last November. Before that, a statewide soda tax failed two years ago. But advocates and legislators are trying again. A bill that would require a penny-per-ounce tax on any sugary beverage is back in front of legislators and, so far, has passed out of two Senate committees.

The bill by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has two explicit goals: to “discourage excessive consumption” by increasing the price of sugary drinks and to create a Children’s Health Promotion Fund.

“We’re in the midst of a public health crisis fueled by childhood obesity,” CaliforniaHealthline reports Monning said to the Senate Committee on Health last week. “This legislation sets an alternative path toward health and wellness.”

The health committee approved the bill. Next stop is the Senate appropriations committee.

While the soda industry is expected to be back in force for this bill, as it was for the other soda-tax efforts, this time there are new forces in play. Continue reading

Most Californians Support Soda Tax If It Benefits Children’s Health

 (La Piazza Pizzeria/Flickr)

(La Piazza Pizzeria/Flickr)

Just over three months since voters in two California cities — Richmond and El Monte — flatly turned down soda taxes, a new Field Poll released Thursday found a majority of California voters say they would support a soda tax if the funds raised were devoted to children’s health.

While only 40 percent of voters said they favor a sugar-sweetened beverage tax, that number jumped to 68 percent if the proceeds will benefit school nutrition and physical activity programs.

“Voters in general don’t trust taxes that aren’t earmarked. They prefer to see taxes linked to something beneficial,” said Dr. Tony Iton, senior vice president of The California Endowment, which sponsored the poll. “People that are engaged in constructing policy … should take heart in this poll and be able to look to it to construct subsequent measures for trying to engage the public support behind obesity prevention.”

Fully 75 percent of voters said they see a link between regular soda consumption and a person’s risk of being overweight or obese.
The Field Poll reported that support for such an earmarked tax was especially strong among Latinos (79 percent), Asian Americans (73 percent) and African Americans (70 percent).

“I think this poll shows that a campaign either statewide or locally in cities has an excellent chance,” Wendel Brunner, Contra Costa County’s director of public health, told the San Jose Mercury News.

But in the poll voters had the highest support — more than 80 percent — for increasing opportunities for being physically active, such as improved school sports fields and playgrounds — and keeping those facilities open after school and on weekends. Continue reading