CA-soda-warning_verticalCalifornia is having another run at adding warning labels to sugar-sweetened beverages, and New York is joining in. Last year, state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) introduced a bill requiring that any sweetened non-alcoholic beverage (carbonated or non-carbonated) that contains 75 calories or more per 12 fluid ounces be labeled with the words, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” The bill passed the Senate in June, but stalled in the Assembly Health Committee, falling three votes short of the 10 needed to pass. In February, Monning reintroduced his legislation in California, and New York Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) introduced a similar bill for his state. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. According to Monning’s bill, 60 percent of adults and nearly 40 percent of children in California are overweight or obese. This week, 34 public health scientists and researchers who have conducted or analyzed scientific evidence on soda-related diseases announced their support of both states’ bills. The group was organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). “Parents may know that drinking soda is not as healthy as eating broccoli, but they don’t know that sugary drinks, like sports drinks and sweetened teas, may be making their children sick,” said CCPHA Executive Director Harold Goldstein. CalBev, the California arm of the American Beverage Association, argued against Monning’s bill last year, saying that soft drinks are not “uniquely responsible for weight gain.” They added that labels would not change behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles. When the original bill was brought up for a vote in California’s Assembly Health Committee, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) — who noted that soda manufacturers create important jobs in her district — argued that labeling one type of product but “ignoring others” does not adequately address the problem of diabetes. She called for a holistic approach instead. Other members echoed Gonzalez’s concern. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) said that, while he thought industry had a direct responsibility in terms of public health, he was not convinced that a safety label would change people’s habits. Another skeptic, Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord), questioned labels but expressed her support for a soda tax. After the labeling bill failed last summer, supporters argued that the debate had generated a lot of education about nutrition and health.