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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Call for warnings on sugary drinks

Wednesday May 28th, 2014

An expert calls today for sugary drinks to carry a warning on the label outlining their negative health effects.

Professor Simon Capewell of Liverpool University, UK, writes in the British Medical Journal that the British public would support such health warnings, which are already being considered by the government in California.

If the move went ahead in California, warning labels stating "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay" would appear on any non-alcoholic drink with added sweeteners and 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces (340ml). Warnings would also appear on vending machines with a fine if not displayed.

"This remarkable suggestion raises questions about precedents, public support, and the political feasibility of such a move," writes Professor Capewell. "Many other potentially harmful products already carry effective health warnings," he adds. "Public support for warnings about added sugar seems high, suggesting that such labelling is politically feasible."

A recent public opinion poll found that about 60% of 1,000 adults support health warnings on food packaging, and even more support banning sugary drinks in schools or limiting the amount of sugar allowed in certain foods. Nearly half (45%) would support a tax on sugary drinks.

"Sugary calories consumed as liquids simply do not provide the same signals of satiety, or fullness, generated by equal calories from solid foods," Professor Capewell writes. "Such sugar sweetened beverages offer an obvious target for policy makers, particularly if similar policies have succeeded elsewhere."

Warning labels could be an effective new strategy alongside bans and tax rises, he says. "These proposals may also herald a tipping point in public attitudes and political feasibilities."

Capewell, S. Personal view: Sugar sweetened drinks should carry obesity warnings. BMJ 28 May 2014 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g3428

Tags: Child Health | Diet & Food | UK News

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