California lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would force manufacturers of sugary drinks to add a warning label to their product. According to the language of California SB 1000, the label would read, “State of California Safety Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” The label would be added to any beverage that contains added sugar and 75 calories or more per 12 ounces.

While the statement reflects our current understanding of the risks of these beverages, drink manufacturers are nonetheless unhappy with the prospect of putting warning labels on their products.

“Nanny Government” or Empowering Consumers?

Although a lobbying group for the beverage industry said that only about 6% of calories in the average American diet come from sodas (less than the 11% from sweets and desserts), and that the beverages already have ingredient lists and calorie information. The group complained that the legislation would increase the cost of doing business in California (but didn’t say by how much).

Medical groups supporting the bill countered that consuming one soda a day increased the risk of being overweight by 27% for an adult and 55% for a child. Legislators supporting the bill said, “We believe

[protecting public health is] an appropriate role for government to play,” and compared the warning labels to similar ones added to alcohol and cigarettes.

The bill’s advocates also note that people can still choose to drink the sugary drinks, but will be reminded of important factors in making their beverage decisions.

Will Manufacturers Avoid the Label?

One potential benefit of the new warning label requirement is that some manufacturers might rather change their formula than put the warning label on their beverages. To do this they could either reduce the amount of sugar added, or, in some cases, stop adding extra sugar altogether.

This might result in more options for lower-calorie and naturally sweetened beverages that taste more like fruit or tea than another hypersweet artificial flavor.

A Side Benefit

Clearly, the primary issue in the debate is obesity rather than tooth decay. If tooth decay were the issue, the label would be applied to acidic drinks, because these can erode your tooth enamel. Some of these drinks are as acidic as pure lemon juice (pH 2), and can be highly destructive not just to your teeth, but even to your fillings!

Frequent consumption of sugary and acidic soft drinks can increase the need for reconstructive dentistry procedures like porcelain veneers or dental crowns. Soda, because of its acidity, is capable not only of destroying tooth enamel, but of destroying some types of tooth-colored fillings.

Although this will not stop people from consuming these types of beverages, it will hopefully make them think twice when they have a choice.

If you are looking to improve your oral health and reduce your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems, cutting soda and other soft drinks out of your diet is not a bad place to start.

If you are looking for expert, attractive repair of tooth damage, please contact Rice Dentistry in Irvine, California today.