Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

The California Medical Association (CMA) is working to decrease the consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) because they contribute to a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Sugar from beverages accounts for nearly half the added sugar in the American diet and comprise the largest source of added sugars in the diet of U.S. youth. Twenty years ago, a single serving of regular soda was 6.5 ounces. Today, that average has grown to 20 ounces and 165 more calories.

All of this added sugar is literally weighing down Americans. The annual cost of obesity in the United States is $190 billion. In California, 60.7 percent of adults are overweight, and 24 percent are obese. Among California’s children ages 2 to 4, 16 percent are overweight, and 17 percent are obese. Consumption of SSB also increases risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and liver disease. Furthermore, people who drink two or more servings of sugar-sweetened drinks a day have a 31 percent higher risk to die early from cardiovascular disease than those who indulge less frequently.

Like tobacco companies before them, it’s important to note that predatory marketing tactics employed by soda giants like Coke and Pepsi are hurting consumers and driving up health care costs – particularly among children and low-income communities. Consider…

  • Tobacco executives, barred from targeting children for cigarette sales, focused their marketing prowess on young people to sell sugary beverages in ways that had not been done before. (New York Times)
  • Soda companies artificially reduce soda prices to help sell more of their harmful products in low-income neighborhoods. Research found that stores were nearly twice as likely to have promotional soda displays on the days when food stamps were distributed in New York. That figure falls to zero such displays in neighborhoods with few SNAP recipients and rises to more than four times as likely in neighborhoods with large numbers of shoppers who use food stamps. (Washington Post)

CMA is committed to legislative and regulatory solutions that increase education and stop Big Soda's predatory marketing schemes and help lower SSB consumption and improve health outcomes for all Californians.


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