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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 3, March 2013, Posted On: 2/13/2013

Consumer Advocate CSPI Petitions FDA To Limit Sugar In Drinks

Nick Montano
TAGS: sugar drinks, anti soda petition, sugar drinks, obesity, Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI petition, FDA soda petition, Coke, Pepsi, Michael F. Jacobson Center for Consumer Freedom, soda as bioweapon, soda vending machine

Michael F. Jacobson: 'Like a slow-acting but ruthlessly efficient bioweapon, sugar drinks cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.'

WASHINGTON -- The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a petition today with the FDA which sets forth what it says is scientific evidence that added sugars, especially in drinks, cause weight gain, obesity and chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and gout. The 54-page argument cites clinical trials that have found that people who are assigned to drink sugary beverages gain more weight than those assigned to drink sugar-free beverages, as well as other studies that link high-sugar diets to increases in triglycerides, LDL ("bad") cholesterol and liver fat.

"As currently formulated, Coke, Pepsi, and other sugar-based drinks are unsafe for regular human consumption," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Like a slow-acting but ruthlessly efficient bioweapon, sugar drinks cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The FDA should require the beverage industry to reengineer their sugary products over several years, making them safer for people to consume, and less conducive to disease."

The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom fired back by calling the CSPI's petition an over-the-top stunt that misguidedly seeks to revoke "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status for sodas' added sweeteners.

The CCF said: "Blaming the sugar in soda as the main culprit for obesity and weight-related ailments is absurdly misguided. Study after study demonstrates that soda or any specific food or beverage is not a unique contributor to obesity. In fact, federal government data shows that soft drinks only provide 7% of a person's daily calories. Weight gain is a function of simple mathematics: calories "in" (food) exceed calories "out" (exercise). Of course, food scolds like CSPI would rather concentrate their policy making efforts largely on only one side of the equation (calories in)." | SEE STATEMENT

The American Beverage Association also responded to the petition and said that, "Everyone has a role to play in reducing obesity levels -- a fact completely ignored in this petition. This is why the beverage industry has worked to increase options and information for consumers."

In addition to asking the FDA to reduce levels of added sugars allowed in beverages, CSPI's petition urges the agency to encourage the food industry to voluntarily decrease added sugars in breakfast cereals and baked goods, among other foods. CSPI said the FDA should add a separate line for added sugars on Nutrition Facts labels and mount, perhaps with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, education campaigns aimed at curbing consumption of added sugars.

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