A call to action

Soft-drink consumption is the target of a petition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (and the Food and Drug Administration)

Dear Colleague:

I urge you to cosign the letter at the end of this message supporting a formal petition that CSPI will file aimed at reducing soft-drink consumption. The petition calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (and the Food and Drug Administration) to require health messages on non-diet soft drinks. It also calls on HHS to require caffeinated soft drinks to disclose the amount of caffeine per serving and to revoke the "Generally Recognized As Safe" status of high-fructose corn syrup (and sucrose and other refined sugars).

Enough carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks are produced each year to provide the average American with 68 gallons and 85,000 calories! Soda pop provides more calories than any other single food in the American diet! Increasing evidence indicates that soft drinks promote obesity, replace nutrient-containing beverages and foods in the diet, and cause dental caries/erosion, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

Also, the FDA considers high-fructose corn syrup and sugar to be "Generally Recognized As Safe." Considering the amounts consumed each year, those ingredients are not safe, but harmful, because soft drinks and other foods high in added sugars add to overall caloric intake or may replace more healthful foods. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans strongly urges Americans to consume fewer foods high in added sugars.

While national nutrition statements discourage consumption of non-diet soft drinks, the government has done little to adopt policies that would help achieve that goal. I hope you will use this unique opportunity to call on the Department of Health and Human Services to convert its rhetoric into improved diets.

Please reply by June 23.


Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW #300
Washington, DC 20009
(o) 202-777-8328; (f) 202-265-4954
CSPI web site: www.cspinet.org

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is confidential. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication or other use of a transmission received in error is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, immediately notify me at (202) 777-8328.

___ Yes, I'll sign on to the letter urging HHS to require health-warning notices on soft drinks and to revoke the "GRAS" status of high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and other refined sugars.

(Please invite your colleagues to cosign, also.)


Many thanks!

Secretary Michael Leavitt
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Leavitt:

The undersigned scientists are deeply concerned about the impact of non-diet soft drinks, both carbonated and non-carbonated, on Americans' diet and health. Americans consume more than three times as much non-diet soda pop per capita as they did 50 years ago. Once marketed in 6.5-ounce containers, today carbonated soft drinks are marketed in 20-ounce and even larger single-serving containers. Once consumed as occasional treats, soft drinks are now the single biggest source of calories in the average American's diet. Carbonated soft drinks and non-carbonated (fruit) drinks provide about 10 percent of the average youth's calories.

Soft drinks may replace more nutritious foods in people's diets or add excess calories. U.S. Department of Agriculture food-consumption surveys have found that many teenagers, among others, do not consume recommended amounts of healthful foods (for example, fruits and vegetables) and nutrients (for example, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A). Soft drinks clearly are replacing milk in many Americans' diets. In the 1970s, teenagers were consuming twice as much milk as soda pop. In the 1990s that ratio was reversed. The replacement of milk in the diet could portend higher rates of osteoporosis in the coming decades.

Between 1976-80 and 1999-2002, the percentage of children who were overweight doubled (6- to 11-year-olds) or tripled (12- to 19-year olds). Several recent studies indicate that increasing soft-drink consumption is probably one (of numerous) contributors to weight gain in children and adults. Considering how much soda pop children drink, one might think that they are addicted to it. And well they might be, because six of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine, a mildly addictive stimulant drug. In addition, non-diet soft drinks promote dental caries, and the acids in soft drinks promote dental erosion.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-health organization, is petitioning your department, through the Food and Drug Administration, to require health messages on the labels of soft drinks. The notices would alert consumers to risks that frequent consumption of non-diet soft drinks poses, such as weight gain (and obesity-related health problems: diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer), caries, and osteoporosis.

We urge you to review CSPI's petition carefully and require the new labeling that it seeks. Inasmuch as that action alone would not solve the problem of over-consumption of soft drinks, we also urge the Department of Health and Human Services to fund major mass-media campaigns to reduce soft-drink consumption, as well as to promote better overall nutrition.


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