Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called on the U.S. Surgeon General to investigate the possible link between sugary beverages and obesity in the United States. The Senators also want the Surgeon General to analyze how policies regarding sugary beverages could help to curb the obesity epidemic across the country.
"As America's waistline has expanded, so too has our access to sugary drinks," the Senators wrote. "Doctors and public health experts recommend limiting and reducing the consumption of sugary drinks, especially in children, but kids and adults drink twice the amount of soda that they did three decades ago."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 million people in the United States are overweight or obese, and obesity kills more than 110,000 Americans every year. The childhood obesity rate in the United States, where nearly one-third of American children are overweight or obese, is one of the highest in the world. Between 1973 and 2008, the rate of children who are overweight or obese in the United States more than doubled, from 15 percent to nearly 32 percent.
Today's letter follows-up on Senator Lautenberg's previous effort to have the federal government investigate the impact of sugary beverages on Americans' health and obesity. Lautenberg filed an amendment to the Farm Bill requiring a study, but it was not included in the bill approved in the Senate earlier this summer.
The letter can be viewed here and the full text of the letter follows:
September 12, 2012
The Honorable Regina Benjamin
United States Public Health Service
Plaza Level 1, Room 100
1101 Wooton Parkway
Rockville, MD 20852
Dear Admiral Benjamin:
As obesity continues to plague our children, we request that you study the impact sugary beverages have on obesity and public health in the United States, and how policies regarding sugary beverages might affect the obesity epidemic.
America's historically high obesity rates are creating a public health crisis. Two thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. America's childhood overweight and obesity rate is among the highest of any country in the world and this rate has more than doubled over the last four decades. People who are obese are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. Sadly, obesity-related conditions kill more than 110,000 Americans every year. With so many people overweight or obese, 25 percent of young men and women in this country are too overweight to serve in the military.
As America's waistline has expanded, so too has our access to sugary drinks. Beverages like soda, sports drinks, lemonade, juice drinks, and sweetened teas are cheap and available everywhere. Doctors and public health experts recommend limiting and reducing the consumption of sugary drinks, especially in children, but kids and adults drink twice the amount of soda that they did three decades ago.
Local communities have begun to debate and implement policies related to sugary beverage in hopes of decreasing rates of obesity. We request that you conduct a study and determine the impact of sugary drinks on rates of American obesity and whether public health proposals that target sugary beverages will positively impact public health.