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Coming Soon: Skull and Crossbones on Your Coke?

That purveyor of ideas all in the name of the “public’s interest”, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to mandate warning labels on none other than your good ole’ soda pop.

They argue, according to MediaPost Raw, that the linkage between drinking sugary drinks like non-diet soda and obesity is so clear that these beverages merit a warning label.

My problem with their proposals is that it won’t work. They suggest that putting language on the side of a soda can such as “This drink contains XXX calories. Consider switching to water” will deter people from drinking sugary drinks. No chance. What will deter people is obesity’s equivalent of the skull and crossbones image. Perhaps an icon of a person with 4 chins or a profile view of a person with a rather large mid-section would do the trick. Or perhaps a chalk outline of a person holding a soda can. Those would be persuasive images.

Ultimately, the idea of warning consumers of sugary drinks that they are likely to contribute to their obesity probably won’t get much traction, but it’s not the worst idea in the world either. The only real problem with proposals like those from CSPI is that they need to remember the history of other such endeavors like with smoking and other deadly substances and choose a method that will actually work in preventing obesity rather than engaging in political posturing.

Summer McGee, PhD

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