Government Urged To Study Link Between Sugary Drinks And Obesity

The American Cancer Society is urging the US Government to conduct a study regarding the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and the nation’s obesity crisis.  The group says that those types of drinks play a major role in the nation’s obesity crisis and require a U.S. action plan.   In the United States, two-thirds of people are overweight or obese and health costs are spiraling.

The American Cancer Society’s advocacy affiliate wrote a letter to U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling for a comprehensive review along the lines of the U.S. top doctor’s landmark report on the dangers of smoking in 1964.  The U.S. Surgeon General’s office is often looked to for direction on significant health issues.  Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Tara Broido said that the agency had not yet received the letter.

The group is urging the Surgeon General to conduct a study of sugar-sweetened beverages and their impact on consumer health.  The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network wrote, “An unbiased and comprehensive report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages could have a major impact on the public’s consciousness and perhaps begin to change the direction of public behavior in their choices of food and drinks.”  The letter continued, “There seems to be a consensus about the problem and the cause, but what is lacking is an articulate, science-based and comprehensive national plan of action.”

The beverage industry, including The Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo Inc, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc, has defended its products and the personal choice of consumers   In response to the letter, Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, said, “We already have studies from the federal government and independent third parties that demonstrate soft drinks are not a unique or significant contributor to obesity.”

Health experts and advocates say that data shows that sugary drinks are a large part of the obesity problem, while food and lack of exercise also contribute.  In May, the Institute of Medicine called for more policies to reduce overconsumption of sugary drinks.  Also in May, New York City announced a plan that would limit the cup sizes for such beverages to 16 ounces.  Other cities and towns are also looking at ways to curb consumption.

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