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Lawmakers Unveil Bills Targeting Coke and Pepsi in California

Efforts aim to reduce incidence of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A broad coalition of physicians, dentists and public health advocates announced their support for a package of bills aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ensuring that corporations like The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP) stop targeting low-income communities and pay their fair share of public health costs.

The California Medical Association (CMA) and California Dental Association (CDA) are backing five measures, including a broad array of policy proposals that would reduce the consumption of sugary beverages such as soda, energy drinks, sweet teas and sports drinks that contribute to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease.

 “Like the tobacco industry, companies like Coke and Pepsi are peddling harmful products to children at a significant cost to public health and our health care system,” says David. H. Aizuss, MD, CMA president. “These measures will help lower consumption and help Californians make healthier choices that prioritize public health.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major factor in preventable diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, which affects approximately 4 million California adults, costing the state billions of dollars in health care costs. The high levels of sugar and frequency of consumption of these beverages, which are consumed by over 50 percent of 8-year-olds daily, ­are especially problematic.

“The combination of high sugar content and acid makes soda especially damaging to teeth, and dentists see the devastating effects of this in our practices every day,” says Del Brunner, DDS, CDA president. “Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic childhood disease and it affects children’s ability to chew, speak properly and learn in school; we must do more to reverse soda’s lifelong negative effects on dental health.”

The measures introduced this week include:

  • AB 764 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) prohibits a soda company from offering a manufacturer’s coupon to their partnering manufacturer, distributor or retailer.
  • AB 765 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) prohibits placement of sugar-sweetened beverages near the check-out counter at supermarkets, larger grocery stores, supercenters and warehouse clubs.
  • AB 766 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) bans the sale of unsealed beverages larger than 16 ounces at food service establishments, including restaurants with self-service soda fountains.
  • SB 347 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) requires a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages so consumers can make decisions that work best for them.
  • AB 138 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) creates a fee on sodas and other sugary beverages and uses the new revenue to offset health and economic costs associated with overconsumption of sugar.

Effectively curbing the obesity epidemic will require a comprehensive approach to limit availability, place restrictions on advertising tactics and educate consumers about the harmful effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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