A group of almost 100 national and local health, medical, and consumer organizations, plus a handful of 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. Referencing the impact of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use, the groups and individuals hope that a report on soda will evaluate the insalubrious effects and better-publicize the health impact of indulging in too many 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 the 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 letter cites some startling statistics, like that that type 2 diabetes, which used to affect primarily middle-aged and older adults, is now occurring more commonly in teens. And an important study which found that each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60-percent increased risk of overweight in children. Startlingly, almost fifty percent of two- and three-year old children drink sugary beverages 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 (CSPI) 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 brought together 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.