Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages linked to obesity; soda industry fails to acquit itself in landmark hearings

In today’s landmark hearings called by State Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and Elaine Kontominas Alquist (D-San Jose), representatives from the soda industry failed to acquit themselves of a growing body of research implicating sugar-sweetened beverages as the leading culprit in the obesity epidemic.

“The science presented today was clear and conclusive: soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are leading contributors to the nation’s runaway obesity epidemic,” Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) said immediately after the four-hour hearings. “The problem is we drink soda like it’s water, but it’s not – the average 20 ounce soda delivers a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar. In light of all we heard today about the adverse health impact of soda, we simply cannot afford to raise another Pepsi generation!”

Nearly 20 organizations provided testimony at the special joint hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes and the Senate Health Committee to explore the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. And while the soda industry rolled out their own cadre of spokespeople, they could not dispute the latest science:

  • California adults who drink a soda or more a day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese, regardless of income or ethnicity.
  • A child’s risk for obesity increases an average of 60 percent with every additional daily serving of soda.
  • The average American consumes 50 gallons of soda or other sweetened beverages each year, adding the equivalent of 39 pounds of sugar to their diet.

“These hearings offered a rare opportunity to review the research and hear from all sides in this debate. Given what we’ve just learned, if we’re serious about making an impact on obesity, soda is the natural and logical place to begin. It’s now incumbent on California legislators to determine how best to address the enormous harm done by soda in California in order to protect the health of our children and our state,” Goldstein said.


California Center for Public Health Advocacy


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