Health advocates and public health officials from major cities
are asking the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount
of caloric sweeteners in sodas and other beverages, saying the
scientific consensus is that the level of added sugars is unsafe.
The group, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and including public health departments from Boston to Los Angeles, noted that the FDA had pledged in 1982 and 1988 to reassess the safety of sweeteners if consumption increased or if new scientific research indicated that things like high fructose corn syrup and sucrose were a public health hazard.
"Both of those conditions have been met," the center said in a news release Wednesday, and that "obligates the FDA to act."
The big beverage makers are aware of the growing pressure on them to either reduce the amount of sweeteners in their products or find an alternative to such sugars. PepsiCo, for example, has used stevia in a product called Trop 50 to reduce caloric sweeteners in juice, while Coca-Cola recently went on the offensive with advertisements that sought to underscore its concern about obesity.
Sodas and sugary drinks are the biggest source of calories in the American diet, adding 300 to 400 calories to the average consumer's total daily caloric intake.
"If one were trying to ensure high rates of obesity, diabetes or heart disease in a population, one would feed the population large doses of sugary drinks," Walter Willett, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the news release.
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