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CSPI letter seeks surgeon general report on soda

The U.S. Surgeon General should issue a report on the health effects of soda and other sugary drinks, a coalition of more than 100 health organizations and individual experts organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest has written Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

In a letter, the groups and individuals, including the American Medical Association, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote that “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 problem.”

The letter said such a report could have the same impact as the 1964 report on tobacco use.

‘Each year, the average American drinks about 40 gallons of sugary drinks, all with little, if any, nutritional benefit,” the groups said, although they acknowledged that consumption has been going down.

The American Beverage Association said the study is unnecessary.

“Despite what CSPI would have you believe, soft drinks do not uniquely contribute to obesity,” the beverage association said in a statement.

“The facts bear this out," the statement said. "Added sugars from beverages continue to decline in Americans’ diets, yet obesity rates continue to rise. This misguided focus on sugar-sweetened beverages distracts from finding meaningful solutions to obesity. If we are serious about reducing obesity, then we must focus on the overall diet and physical activity. Calling for another taxpayer-funded study focused solely on sugar-sweetened beverages won’t lead to meaningful solutions.”