Tag Archives SSB

Massachusetts public health regulators have reportedly approved proposed rules that would prohibit public schools from selling sweetened soft drinks, salty and calorie-laden packaged snacks, and white bread sandwiches as a way to combat childhood obesity. Effective in the 2012-13 school year, the proposed regulations need the approval of the state’s Public Health Council, which is expected to consider the issue in spring 2011. According to a news source, the proposed regulations would apply to a la carte lines, snack shops and vending machines, but not main cafeteria lines. “You don’t want to be feeding kids a bunch of sugar or low-nutrient foods and expect them to be well-prepared to learn,” said Jill Carter, executive director of the Health and Wellness Department in Boston’s public schools. See The Boston Globe, February 10, 2011.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has announced a new advertising campaign designed “to educate New Yorkers about the potentially serious health effects of consuming sugary drinks.” With the tagline “Pouring on the Pounds,” the health department’s latest installment features subway advertisements and a new TV commercial, the latter of which has sparked debate over its allegedly graphic content, including a close-up of a diabetic’s decaying toes. According to a January 31, 2011, press release, the 30-second spot aims to illustrate “how a daily routine of just a few sweetened drinks can cumulate to a whopping 93 packets of sugar by the end of the day.” “Too many sugar-sweetened drinks are fueling the obesity epidemic. Obesity and the serious health consequences that result are making hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers sick or disabled,” said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “This new campaign shows…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has published a January 3, 2011, letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that calls for health warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages. Signed by the American Public Health Association, California Center for Public Health Advocacy, Trust for America’s Health, and other groups, the letter asks FDA to require the use of warning labels on “all beverages with more than 1.1 grams of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or other added caloric sweeteners per ounce.” Building on a 2005 CSPI petition, the signatories specifically cite “overwhelming evidence linking consumption of soft drinks to serious diseases.” They recommend that the agency use its “ample legal authority” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require warning labels such as (i) “The U.S. Government recommends that you drink fewer sugary drinks to prevent weight gain, tooth decay, heart disease and diabetes”; (ii)…

The University of Southern California Childhood Obesity Research Center (CORC) has published a study claiming that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains 18 percent more fructose than estimated by soft drink manufacturers. Emily Ventura, Jaimie Davis and Michael I. Goran, “Sugar Content of Popular Sweetened Beverages Based on Objective Laboratory Analysis: Focus on Fructose Content,” Obesity, October 2010. According to the study, food and nutrition researchers usually assume that the ratio of fructose to glucose in HFCS is 55 to 45, based on information provided by the Corn Refiners Association. But after analyzing 23 sugar-sweetened beverages and four standard solutions with high-performance liquid chromatography, CORC allegedly determined that not only was the mean fructose content 59 percent, but that “several major brands appear to be produced with HFCS that is 65 [percent] fructose.” The study also raises questions about the other kind of sugars used in these beverages, reporting “significant deviations…

In a recent FindLaw article, Cornell Law School Professor Sherry Colb addresses whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to prevent food stamp recipients from buying sugar-sweetened sodas and beverages violates any constitutional proscriptions. Titled “No Buying Soda with Food Stamps? Considering Mayor Bloomberg’s New Health Initiative,” Colb’s article concludes that arguments about equal treatment for the poor and consumer freedom in general hold no weight given the overwhelming risks to public health posed by “unhealthy, empty-calorie food.” She expresses confidence that food stamp recipients will experience measurable benefits by avoiding some unhealthy foods, which will convince public officials to expand such initiatives “to take on various industries that profit at the expense of human health.” Meanwhile, a New York Times article discusses what prompted a writer and former Rutgers professor to begin the “Candy Professor” blog, which apparently “dives deep into the American relationship with candy, finding irrational and…

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has approved and submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a New York City proposal “to exclude sugar-sweetened beverages, the largest single contributor to the obesity epidemic, from the list of allowable purchases through the nation’s food stamp program (also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP),” according to an October 7, 2010, press release. Unveiled by Governor David Paterson (D) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), the initiative would prohibit the city’s food stamp users from buying soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages for up to two years while researchers study the ban’s impact. If accepted by USDA, the plan would define sugar-sweetened beverages “as those containing more than 10 calories per 8 ounces (except fruit juices without added sugar, milk products and milk substitutes).” It would also provide for “a rigorous evaluation . . .…

A recent study has purportedly linked consumption of carbonated diet sodas with an increased risk of premature birth. Thorhallur Halldorsson, et al., “Intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and risk of preterm delivery: a prospective cohort study of 59,334 Danish pregnant women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 30, 2010. Researchers evaluated data from approximately 60,000 pregnancies tracked in Denmark between 1996 and 2002. According to the study, women in the middle of their pregnancies who drank at least one diet soft drink daily were 38 percent more likely to have a premature baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy than those who abstained. In addition, women who drank at least four such products per day were at a 78 percent risk of early delivery. The researchers claimed that “no association was observed for sugar-sweetened carbonated soft drinks or for sugar-sweetened noncarbonated soft drinks” and suggested that more studies are needed…

Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have issued a report, “Summertime Blues,” in which they provide information about “100 stimulus projects that give taxpayers the blues.” Among the projects is a $521,000 grant to the University of Illinois to study whether taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages can affect the incidence of obesity. According to the senators, “While it is hard to disagree that soda and other sugary drinks are contributing factors to the national obesity epidemic, it is easy to disagree whether federal dollars should be used to study the relationship between taxes and obesity.” In a related development, the CEO of a nonprofit foundation writing in The Hill’s “Pundits Blog,” called the District of Columbia’s decision to take a “soda tax” off the table “an unfortunate mistake.” Kathy Kemper opines that the proposal “would take our capital city far in reducing sugar consumption among…

Close