Sugary drink labeling bill falls short in state Senate panel

A measure to require labels linking sugary drinks to obesity and diabetes fails to advance in state Senate

A measure to require health warning labels on sodas and other sugary beverages fell flat in a state Senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) presented the bill as a tool to combat rising obesity and diabetes rates. The measure would have required sugar-sweetened drinks, including sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks, to be adorned with a label that would read "drinking beverages with added sugars contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."

"The single most important thing we can do to get ahead of this obesity epidemic is to let consumers know that this product filled with sugar is a leading contributor," said Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and a supporter of the bill.

Beverage manufacturers, as well as retail and restaurant groups, opposed the bill, arguing it unfairly singled out one cause of obesity and diabetes.

"We insult consumers by simplfying a complex disease and stating that sugar-sweetened beverages cause their obesity," said Dr. Liz Applegate, director of the sports nutrition program at UC Davis who testified on behalf of the American Beverage Assn.

The bill, SB 203, won four "yes" votes, one short of what was needed to clear the committee. All four yes votes came from Democrats.

A similar proposal by Monning stalled in the Legislature last year. 

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