Today’s Not a Victory Day – It’s a Coward’s Day

May 12, 2015 in Diabetes, Foodland Chronicles, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

I was just glancing at today’s news and noticed that the bill that proposed labels on sugar-sweetened beverages in California to warn of diabetes, obesity and tooth decay was allowed to die in committee. The California Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act SB203, fell short in a vote at the Senate Health committee, with four senators voting for the bill, one voting against the move, and four abstentions. Was abstaining just a chicken way of voting on the side of Big Sugar? Just sayin!

Certainly, we’re not shocked that the bill was strongly criticized by the beverage association CalBev; nor were we surprised that the American Diabetes Association supported it. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said; "Soda and sugar drinks promote expensive and debilitating diseases, but unlike most other foods or beverages, have no redeeming nutritional qualities." That’s right, they don’t deliver a single benefit to your health.

The executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), Harold Goldstein, said that “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. It’s time to post warnings on the front of the bottle.” It’s everywhere! The sophisticated marketing and ubiquitous availability, makes the sugary sodas, sports drinks, iced teas, juice drinks, vitamin waters, and energy drinks hard to miss. So the CCPHA designed a program called Kick the Can. They tried to raise awareness and supported SB203. Sorry CCPHA.

I was proud that New York and California were taking a stand on sugar-sweetened drinks. I no longer live in California, but I was truly proud of them for trying to take a position. The state that I presently live in so frequently sides with industry, I couldn’t even hope for such a bill.

My guess is that heavy lobbying influenced the four senators who abstained. Someone needs to wake up their districts and ask who they really work for. The sugar lobby argues that sugar is not the only thing driving up obesity and diabetes. So it seems to me, if we go way back to the tobacco industry’s war, and remember arguments that cigarettes are not the only thing that causes lung cancer, it begs the question; Should we not do anything about cigarettes, if coal dust, asbestos, particulate smog and radon gas also cause lung cancer? It’s not rocket science that drinking sugar beverages that don’t satisfy hunger, contributes to obesity and diabetes.

It’s so frustrating that the federal government caved into the sugar industry and created a regulatory vacuum. Now the states feel that they should do something, but state efforts often do not go well. My exasperation reminds me of an article in National Geographic’s March 2015 issue; The Age of Disbelief, which chronicles skepticism about science and how it’s on the rise. Even though there’s so much solid scientific evidence that sugar-sweetened drinks are deleterious to health, people seem to say with their dollars, “I don’t believe it.” In order to make money for those invested in a commodity industry; the sugar industry designs some deceptive “research” to say that science backs their argument that sugar-sweetened drinks are not a problem. Some days I just want to throw my hands up and say; “I give.” But if I give my self a few seconds, I come back to the reality. It may be battle fought, battle lost, but the war is not over. The progress against cigarettes was not made in a single effort; nor does this look like it will be an easy fix. No, it’s not a Victory Day, but it is a day to remind us to avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, and wherever we are, to vote for senators with some backbone.