WASHINGTON - Dozens of health organizations, municipal public health departments and scientists have asked the U.S. surgeon general to issue a report on sugar-sweetened soft drinks, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Soda and other sugary drinks are the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity, a major contributor to coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers and a cause of psychosocial problems," reads the letter, sent last week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (the surgeon general is part of HHS). The letter also noted that research has shown 46% of two- and three-year olds drink sugary drinks daily.
The letter said a report by the surgeon general "would pave the way for policy measures at all levels of government."
In response, the American Beverage Association said that a surgeon general€™s report would not create any "meaningful solutions" to the country€™s obesity problem.
"...[S]oft drinks do not uniquely contribute to obesity. The facts bear this out. Added sugars from beverages continue to decline in Americans€™ diets, yet obesity rates continue to rise," the association said. "This misguided focus on sugar-sweetened beverages distracts from finding meaningful solutions to obesity. If we are serious about reducing obesity, then we must focus on the overall diet and physical activity."
The ABA also shot down any comparisons with tobacco, which some advocates for mandating rules and regulations on soft drinks try to make.
"There is simply no comparison between soda and tobacco €" not among our products, nor our business practices. Tobacco in and of itself is harmful €" in any amount; our beverages are not. They can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle," the group said.