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November 20, 2014

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California sugary drink warning label effort fails

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Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

In this file photo dated Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007, an overweight person eats in London. Almost one-third of the world population is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis to be released Thursday, May 29, 2014.

Updated Tuesday, June 17, 2014 | 9:55 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would have made California the first state in the nation to require warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks was effectively killed on Tuesday.

SB1000 by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, failed on a 7-8 vote as his fellow Democratic lawmakers doubted whether a label would change consumer behavior. It needed 10 votes to pass.

Certain sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks would have included a label reading, "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."

It was developed by public health advocates using cigarette and alcohol warnings as a model. Representatives of the beverage industry argued that the bill was unfair by not applying to other foods and drinks, including lattes and chocolate milk.

Monning says warning labels would be the most efficacious tool for educating people about the dangers of sugary drinks, including increased risk for obesity and diabetes.

"Changing behavior is the hardest challenge in the world of medicine," Monning told lawmakers before the vote. "But you can't start to even make a commitment to make behavior change if you don't have the information."

Sugary drinks have been a target of public health advocates who see them as one of the biggest drivers of preventable disease. New York City banned large drinks in 2012, prompting lawsuits and an aggressive campaign from businesses.

Monning, who previously pushed for a soda tax, said he would keep pursuing the warning labels.

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