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New York State Assemblyman: Put Warning Labels On Sugary Drinks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Sugary drinks are under attack again in New York. This time, there's a push to put warning labels on them.

Clarisselle Merino confessed to CBS2's Vanessa Murdock on Thursday that she loves sugary drinks.

"Sugary drinks are not good for you. This is bad advertising," Merino said with a laugh, soft drink in hand. "If it had a warning label on it, I think that would make me think twice."

By 2016 they might. That's if state Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn) has his way. He introduced a bill that would require warning labels on sugary drinks, warnings like the following: "Drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay …"

"We have a responsibility to educate consumers on the dangers of drinking sugar-based beverages," Camara said.

Camara said warning labels would help educate consumers about sugar's health risks. He likened the proposed labels to the warning labels on cigarettes.

"There's a precedent for letting consumers know that you're buying this product, you're free to buy it, we're not banning the product, we're just saying you need to know the risk associated with the consumption," Camara told 1010 WINS.

The American Beverage Association believes warning labels will not change behaviors or teach people about healthy lifestyles. A spokesperson told Murdock, "We are working to reduce beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025."

The association has already added calorie labels to the front of every can and bottle produced.

Fitness and nutrition expert Donovan Green said adding warning labels is a start.

"The thing about calories is that you have things that are low in calories but still very high in sugar," Green said. "We have to begin to do something. If kids begin to learn about the problem now, then the future is a better one."

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and American Diabetes Association in 2012 are telling. More than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese and nearly 10 percent of Americans had diabetes.

But will warning labels make a difference?

"That I'm not real sure about," said John Anello of Inwood.

"Do I think that it will make them put it back on the shelf? No, because sugar is an addiction. It's a drug. But what it does is it begins to make them aware," Green said.

Aware of the risks.

Every four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. And, it's recommended you consume just six teaspoons a day. So, in most cases, drinking just one can of a sugar-sweetened beverage puts you over the daily limit, Murdock reported.

Lawmakers in California considered and then defeated a similar idea earlier this year. Critics of sugary drinks have also proposed taxes and size restrictions.

A ban on supersize sugary drinks in New York City was struck down by the courts. The size limit applied to both bottled and fountain sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts.

The ban did not include grocery or convenience stores that don't serve prepared food. It also didn't apply to diet soda, other calorie-free drinks or anything that has at least 50 percent milk or milk substitute.

In September, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper said they would work to reduce the calories Americans consume from beverages by 20 percent over the next decade.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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