Should warning labels be put on soda?
Do you know the risks of drinking soda? Not according to New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara, who has suggested that sugary drinks should, like cigarettes, come with a warning label identifying the associated risks.
It’s a move calculated to improve the state of education regarding obesity and diabetes. Unhealthy lifestyles are a huge problem, with more than half of city adults being either overweight or obese.
Camara explained the move: “We can’t sit back and pretend that sugary drinks aren’t harmful to people. The research is clear: Too much sugar leads to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.” He also described it as a “moral obligation.”
This isn’t the first time politicians have attempted to introduce such measures. Similar initiatives were proposed last year, when Michael Bloomberg planned to ban large sugary drinks from being served in city-regulated outlets. In June, a bill to introduce similar labels on soda and sugary drinks, which cause diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay, was rejected in California over doubts as to how beneficial an effect the measure would have on consumer behaviour.
The proposal brings up many of the trickier debates surrounding obesity and diabetes education. What’s the best way to educate people? Is it moral to propose outright bans on sugary drinks, thus removing people’s right to decide? The American Beverage Association have denounced Camara’s suggestion, describing it as a misguided scare campaign:
“A warning label on soft drinks will do nothing to change behavior or educate people about healthy lifestyles,” said Chris Gindlesperger, associate spokesman. He identified the large calorie labels on the front of beverage containers as being perfectly sufficient educational information: adding any more warnings would constitute a “nanny-state.”
What do you think? Is Camara’s suggestion a necessary step to counter the negative health effects of sugary drinks? Or is this an unnecessary and unethical attempt to control what people can and can’t consume? How do we address the thorny issue of diabetes education, and give the disease’s very real risks and complications a greater presence in the public consciousness?
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