More than 100 health organizations and a dozen scientists signed a joint letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, MPA, and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, in late July requesting a definitive report on sugary drinks. The coalition likened such a report to the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health.
This new report, states the coalition, would pave the way for policy measures at all levels of government and for widespread voluntary actions in the private sector to improve health and reduce healthcare costs. Coalition members also called for an accompanying Surgeon General’s Call to Action to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, which they believe could establish goals for federal, state and local governments, including federal food assistance programs, as well as for other public and private entities.
Those who signed the letter wrote that they “are deeply concerned about the many harms resulting from the excessive consumption of sugary drinks, particularly among young people. 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.”
The letter emphasized the following statistics:
- One study found that each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60% increased risk of overweight in children.
- Research shows that 46% of 2- and 3-year olds consume sugary drinks each day.
- Type 2 diabetes, which used to occur primarily in middle-aged and older adults, is now becoming more common among teens, especially those in low-income and minority groups.
- Obesity has become a national security issue. Twenty-seven percent of America’s youth are ineligible for military service because they are overweight.
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