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  • Warning Labels Won’t Solve Anything

    Today’s Monterey Herald Editorial exposes the common sense truth behind why slapping a warning label on thousands of sugar-sweetened products across California (here’s a complete list) isn't the silver bullet to health awareness and improvement. As the Herald astutely notes, "Legislators can easily fixate on passing new laws. Putting another law on the books isn't always the best solution. A warning label on sweet drinks won't solve the problem. Education and better public awareness on many fronts might.”

    We agree that education and public awareness is the key to improving public health, however, the issue with this measure is that it will not change consumer behavior as a result. The Herald also notes, "Childhood obesity is an issue far more complicated than slapping warning labels on soda cans. Obesity stems from a wide variety of issues — from diet to exercise as well as other lifestyle choices."

    In fact, we couldn't have said it better ourselves - “…instead of relying on simple solutions like warning labels, our elected officials would be better off working with educators, non-profits and even large food and beverage corporations to raise awareness of healthy practices — not just diet choices, but exercise as well.” 

    Read more from The Monterey County Herald here.

  • Illinois Soda Tax Bill Stalled In Committee

    Yesterday, an Illinois Senate committee heard testimony on a bill that would impose a one-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

    Opponents of the legislation cited numerous economic ramifications of the bill.  For example, residents would travel to neighboring states to purchase beverages at a cheaper price, hurting local small businesses. This could lead to job loss in addition to additional burdens on struggling families.

    Here’s what many people probably don’t know about the proposal: this sugary beverage tax wouldn’t apply only to soda. It would also impose additional costs on sports drinks, juices, and some coffees and teas.

    Proponents of the legislation said the potential price hike would dissuade consumers from purchasing the drinks, possibly leading to a decrease in the obesity rate. However, a recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation casts serious doubt on the claim that soda taxes reduce obesity. If anything, it just encourages consumers to seek their calories elsewhere.

    Obesity is serious medical condition that deserves a comprehensive public policy response, and while a soda tax is an appealing option for some legislators, it has been shown to have no significant impact on obesity.

    The soda tax bill is currently stalled in the Illinois legislature. Let’s hope the lawmakers soon figure out what consumers already know: if we want to get serious about obesity, we need to start with education about moderation and exercise, not with laws and regulations. 

    (Photo by Justin Brockie)

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: soda taxes do not decrease obesity

    Despite previous efforts by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to fund soda tax efforts as a means to cut obesity, a recent report released by the organization casts serious doubt on the impact soda taxes have on decreasing obesity levels. Instead, the report found that soda taxes cause the population to replace calories from sugar-sweetened beverages with calories from other sources, thereby resulting in no measurable impact on overall health.

    This marks the second such report by the influential health organization debunking the arguments that soda taxes will reduce obesity.

    As noted by the Washington Examiner, this report “could be a major blow to liberal and progressive state and local leaders who believe that high soft-drink taxes will instantly cut obesity, especially in children. It also undercuts social advocates who believe it is up to lawmakers to take over for parents and steer the nation’s children on a path to healthy living.”

    The discredited claim that soda taxes decrease obesity serves to underscore our motto at Californians for Food and Beverage Choice that taxes and regulations don’t make people healthy — diet and exercise do! In fact, we highlight some of the same conclusions on letsclearitup.org HERE.

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