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Bill to put health warnings on soda and sugary drinks advances in California (latimes.com)
263 points by pseudolus 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 257 comments

They should have a line on the bottle, "the sugar in this bottle goes up to here", because seeing the sugar isolated makes me say, "I'd never eat that much sugar by itself"

Do you want such line on fruit juices too? And where does this all end? We all know there is sugar in soda (and fruitjuices)?

Yes? Fruit juice is basically candy. It's 100% bad for you, but dressed up like it's good for you,.

What about smoothies? Most homemade smoothies retain the fiber by blending the fruit whole. Are those just as good as eating the fruits themselves?

Genuine question, trying to cut out non-fruit based sugars.

Smoothies in general are Not Great (TM).

When you eat food, it takes your body time to digest it all, so you get a slow and steady blood sugar flow. However, when you eat smoothies, all of that food is already nearly ready to be absorbed, so your blood sugar spikes and it's a tremendous burden on your liver to handle all of that food value all at once. Needless to say, smoothies are really not for diabetics or athletes! This is the number one issue with smoothies. A slow and steady blood sugar / nutrition delivery is better for everything.

Outside of that is the sugar issue. Sugar and sweeteners are in everything and people naturally gravitate towards recipes with sugar in it, whether they realize it or not; maybe you aren't using fruit juice, but now you're sweetening with a ton of bananas, or now carrots, etc. We're just helplessly addicted to it.

A third, less known issue is that fruit now adays has been so domesticated that it really has very little nutritional value (esp compared with its wild cousins). It's right up there with milk on "why are we telling people to eat this" type of FDA questions. If you google "healthy smoothie", all you will see are yummy fruit-based smoothies which really are hardly healthy.

If you are after fiber, there are much better things to eat. So in general, fruit smoothies are just not healthy at all no matter what. The really gross-tasting cross-fit type smoothies full of wheatgrass, kale, and other vegetables are much better for you, but who's going to subject themselves to that kind of punishment; might as well eat a salad, at least there's some fat from the dressing. Regarding fiber specifically, flaxseed and chiaseed can be mixed into just about anything with very little taste effect. Beans and lentils are high in fiber.

Honestly, even a no-sugar fiber drink mix would probably be better for your body as a whole than a smoothie.

I concur with everything you've said.

I will say that I drink a smoothie as a (post workout) meal 1-2x per week and the ingredient that really alters that composition is almond butter (and quite a bit of it - 1/3 cup or more).

Nut butters, yogurt and oats should be primary ingredients and fruits should be sparingly added just for a bit of flavor (I throw in 8-10 blueberries which is plenty).

> Nut butters, yogurt and oats should be primary ingredients

Non-starchy non-sugary vegetables should be primary ingredients if you're not looking for a calorie bomb, though it sounds like you are. Let's say you're feeling generous and your almond butter edges up to half a cup. That's over 700 calories before any of your other ingredients.

This is where heath advice breaks down. A heathy snack for a 6’4” serious power lifter looks very different from what the average American should be eating.

Agreed. People who don't lift like a dockside gantry should never base their intake on the diets of people who do. And people who do should refrain from advising others in general spaces based on what they consume, because almost everyone does not.

> A third, less known issue is that fruit now adays has been so domesticated that it really has very little nutritional value

It's not healthy to eat whole fruit (like bananas and apples) from the local grocery store?


It's not really healthy to eat ripe bananas period. Ripe bananas have a higher glycemic load than maple syrup and plain white bread, and the idea that bananas are especially high in potassium is basically a lie.

Glycemic load is not everything, the total amount of carb is much more important. Eating one ripe banana is comparatively more healthy than a meal full of carbs (e.g. a plate of pasta). Now if you eat fruits and drink juice all day long that's a problem...

It's also perfectly healthy to eat a ripe banana if you are doing a physical activity, as the insulin spike will likely help your muscles use the sugar and you won't store it.

So you eat unripe (green) bananas?

> Needless to say, smoothies are really not for diabetics or athletes! This is the number one issue with smoothies. A slow and steady blood sugar / nutrition delivery is better for everything.

With the exception that eating high GI carbs/sugar before doing a high intensity activity is not problematic, because it will be consumed directly by the muscles as "fuel" and might even improve performance. But yes otherwise (ie the majority of the time) I agree.

What does the smoothie have in it?

I mean:

>What about smoothies?...

You can't expect us to just give a blanket answer to that question. Anyone who does give you a blanket answer is full of it. It's all going to depend on what you put in the smoothie.

If you're just mashing together bananas and, say, spinach or blueberries, along with some crushed ice? Well, yeah, that's obviously no different than eating bananas and spinach or blueberries. That's what our teeth have done for millennia... mash up bananas.

But if you're adding sugar filled vanilla milk? (Or vanilla soy milk, or vanilla almond milk, or etc etc etc, you get the picture.) Well, now the whole thing is not that good for you is it? But it's not the bananas, or the spinach, or the blueberries, or the blackberries, or what have you that all of a sudden become bad...

it's the sugary vanilla milk and yogurt that you dumped into the smoothie that makes it bad.

Blending breaks the fruit down much more than chewing so it probably it's a bit worse than just eating the fruit itself. Since it makes it quicker to absorb. It's obviously not as bad as juices and gives you the same nutritional value as fruit.

I really can't understand why anyone would put sugar in a smoothie. Blending a banana and a couple of berries tastes already very sweet.

The fiber is whole fruit makes it much safer to consume. There are dietary exceptions, but sugar alone has 0 nutrients and causes unhealthy spikes in blood sugar (this includes fruit juice). The fiber in whole fruit helps smooth things out. Studies have been completed to test very high whole fruit consumption. I'll let you look them up because I get flamed every time I post a source because .... The Internet. The funny anecdote from these "super high fruit consumption studies" were massive, massive poos.

This is a good, overview on the concept: http://time.com/5301984/can-you-eat-too-much-fruit/

Edit: Other commentators posted great resources.

The information I've seen would seem to suggest that smoothies are somewhere in between fruit juice and whole foods.

Yes, you do start with whole fruit. But then you stick it into a piece of food processing equipment and process the bajeezus out of it. That seems to have an effect on how your body digests it. One of the noteworthy differences is that it makes it a lot easier for your digestive system to extract the calories from it. So your body's going to see it as a more sugary food than if you hadn't used a machine to pre-digest your food a bit before eating it.

I've also heard tell that liquids just aren't as filling as solids. Meaning that liquefying your food before eating it makes it easier to over-consume.

If you’re chewing the fruit as throughly as advised I doubt your stomach sees much difference between a smoothy and a fruit.

Except that enzymes from salvia already started digestion.

> as throughly as advised

Advised by whom? You could always chew less.

> I doubt

Why bother doubting or not doubting? People actually study this.

One of the studies that struck me (don't have it at hand) involved taking exactly the same diet and feeding it whole to one group and pureed to the other. The pureed food group gained weight and the control group didn't.

I've no idea how replicable that result is, but I'd still take that over a hypothesis that hasn't been tested at all.

Just as a pedantic point, (nothing to do with the topic at hand), if a study has not been replicated, and you cannot lay your hands on the replicated data...

then it's pretty much the same as a "...hypothesis that hasn't been tested at all...".

All other factors equal, the faster your body is able to absorb calories from what you consume, the worse it is for you.* Blending your food more can make it pass out of your stomach faster so your body will absorb calories from it faster, spike your insulin harder, and then you'll be hungry again sooner.

Some people do study this if you want to dig through papers. Here's one I found after a few seconds of googling: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19110020

* - Worse means different things in different contexts. If you drink a cup of oil, you'll probably get oily diarrhea instead of absorbing the calories. I'm not sure which is worse in that case.

I think you can kind of approach it like "Would I eat these ingredients on their own if they weren't smashed up together?"

The first recipe I find is 1 banana, 2 cups of strawberries and 1/2 cup of yogurt and a 1/2 cup of milk, resulting in two servings.

I would definitely eat that unsmashed so I imagine the smoothie version is fine, and it's only 200 calories. Still definitely a dessert type snack though.

How juices ( orange, grape, etc ) became a "healthy" is just as ridiculous as cigarettes being "healthy" at one point. Misleading ads via industry and regulator collusion is why we have terrible diets and health issues as a nation.

Sure a glass of orange juice may have "health" benefits like vitamin C or may be good for your heart, but only if we ignore the globs of sugar in it. The liquor industry has to get better PR people. They could be selling vodka and orange juice screwdrivers as a health drink.

It's the power of industry advertising and media. I bet most people today still think fruit juices are healthy and even encourage their children to drink "healthy" juices.

Note that when juices became a thing diets used to be different. Most food was not processed and high calorie desserts didn't exist so technically the juice would be the equivalent of a 1000 calorie ice cream one would eat today just a bit healthier. Today though people eat the dessert and wash it down with "healthy" juice.

yes please. I have to argue with people constantly that think fruit juice is "healthy".

Yea, I was surprised to learn this. I love orange juice like a pirate loves rum. Alas, it's better to eat fruit and avoid juices.

Fruit has sucrose. Sucrose splits into glucose and fructose. Calories and glycemic index aside: glucose good, fructose bad. The fiber in fruit helps block the metabolism of fructose, protecting the liver.

Dr Lustig's video was my intro to this stuff. It's hard to watch, but I haven't read anything yet that contradicts any of it.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Update: Downvoted for science. Yay! I need something to kick my HN addiction. Stop doing this to myself.

Dude I empathize. "Diet advice" invites almost as insane a reaction as "political debate" online. Keep sharing science and ignore the haters, and "hole pokers", the "tech diet nerds" and of course, the astroturfers.

Seconding Lustig's work and his "Bitter Truth" lecture. He comes off as a bit argumentative, even conspiratorial in his delivery, but presents solid, peer-reviewed research.

> I love orange juice like a pirate loves rum.

Only with champagne.

Yes. I only recently realized that fruit juice is just as sugary as soda with hardly any benefit.

Everything that has added sugar, let's put a graphic or line or whatever, showing people how much.

But we don’t know how much.


Slippery slope fallacy is not the best justification for inaction

I mean if the context was “to deal with a crime we just shoot the accused” I’d get your point.

Not really seeing “put technical details of product on package in a way that is quick and easy to digest” as such a big deal.

So what if it costs Coke sales? Since when do I owe them fealty?

“put technical details of product on package in a way that is quick and easy to digest”

Ah, but from the other comments on fruit juices here we see that "easy to digest" is bad for you, so Coke cares about your brain health! :)

> They should have a line on the bottle, "the sugar in this bottle goes up to here"

Then they would just make bottles with very wide bases ...

It honestly should say something along the lines of:

-Most nutritionists agree you shouldn't have more than 5g of sugar outside of fruit sources-

A can of coke have well over 25g

If I listened to nutritionists, I'd eat 11 servings of bread a day and no meat.

No dietician has ever promoted added sugar as healthy.

Added sugar is chemically identical to natural sugars of the same variety. The only difference is that there is more of it. It's not really the greatest thing natural or added.

>-Most nutritionists agree you shouldn't have more than 5g of sugar outside of fruit sources-

Do they? seems like a weird random number.

The AHA recommends a maximum added-sugar intake of 25 g/day (6 teaspoons/day) for women, and 39 g/day (9 teaspoons/day) for men. Similarly, the WHO recommends that no more than 10% of total calories ("ideally less than 5%") should come from added sugar, which works out to 25 grams for a 2000-kcal diet. For comparison, the average American consumes roughly 70 grams of added sugar per day. [1]

I can't find a specific source for a ceiling of 5 g/day, but it's pretty uncontroversial that more added sugar is never better. The lower you set your maximum intake, the harder it is to maintain, since sugar is added to so many foods.

5 g/day is a somewhat arbitrary cutoff that's lower than official recommended maximums, but this doesn't imply that there should be no limit. Pick one. Or start with "as little sugar as practical," log how much sugar you end up consuming under this plan (using a food diary, food scale, etc.), and adjust as needed.

[1] http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overcons...

>I can't find a specific source for a ceiling of 5 g/day, but it's pretty uncontroversial that more added sugar is never better.

Gatorade for athletes.

> but it's pretty uncontroversial that more added sugar is never better.

> this doesn't imply that there should be no limit.

Who is even claiming these things. :/

> official recommended maximums

I don't know what this means. Are you referring to the manual that came with human existence or are you referring to what the FDA says?

My comment above explicitly describes what I refer to as "official recommended maximums": the maximum daily intakes recommended by the AHA and WHO (among others around the globe), presumably through an audit by domain experts of the totality of epidemiological and clinical evidence, together with an unknown amount of interference from non-scientific interests.

To address your analogy, researchers are in a sense writing the Missing Manual for Humans, as our species didn't come with one.

You're free to accept or refute these recommendations, but I personally am inclined to put at least some trust into their collective efforts. Or if you trust different recommendations more so than these, I'd love to see them.

I agree with the recommendations, I just disagree with referring to them as "official."

This mentality coupled with incorrect recommendations helped the trend of "fat free" foods that would be high in sugar, not that long ago either.

The WHO is a 71-year-old UN agency whose constitution has been signed by 61 countries. One of the organizations it incorporated was the Office International d'Hygiène Publique (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_International_d%27Hygi%...), an international public-health organization.

I have to say I find your pushback at the term "official" perplexing. Why do you disagree with this descriptor? They're literally official. It doesn't get more official than this. Sure, they're sometimes wrong, as your fat-free reference suggests, but that's beside the point.

Yeah, and a weird pre-condition. "Have all the sugar you want, as long as it's from fruit juice"? I don't even think the high-carb low fat advocates would go along with that. That's insane.

What about 5 g is weird or random?

How about 6g or 4g?

The fact is, there is no peer reviewed research proving that eating 5g per day, or 6g or 7g or 9g or 2g for that matter will have any material impact on health.

It’s an arbitrarily chosen number. Just like most thinking around food and diet, these things are highly influenced by current trends.

Obsessing over arbitrarily specific numbers in your diet is missing the point. Just make a conscious effort to consume sugar in moderation and you’ll be fine.

The number is useful because it gives a target. Consume in moderation is a joke because moderation means different things to different people. Of course it's OK to go over or under the 5g number. That's not the point.

If obsessing over specific numbers is missing the point, then so is reporting official-sounding over-precise figures about a "recommended limit".

Sugar is bad for you? Fine. Any given unit of sugar will have worse outcomes than the absence of that sugar? Fair enough.

"Hey, we're reporting 5g as some special, significant threshold that suggests we have actual evidence of things really ramping up at that point that suggests no subjective gain could outweigh the damage to your health, when, in reality, it was just pulled out of thin air"? No. Forget that noise.

What about vegetable sources?

Because of the fiber in fruits and vegetables, your body digests them more slowly. Thus, the sugar enters your bloodstream more slowly.

It's kind of like the difference between drinking a beer on a full stomach versus an empty stomach.

In this case, 25g of sugar entering your bloodstream quickly is quite unhealthy.

(Related: If you want to understand this better, stop consuming refined sugar for about a month. Then go eat a peep on an empty stomach. You'll feel an intense sugar rush.)

I was asking in response to:

> Most nutritionists agree you shouldn't have more than 5g of sugar outside of fruit sources-

So nutritionists do or don’t agree that it should also include vegetable sources?

Related: I’m T1 diabetic and my partner had to call 911 last week because of hypoglycemia. If I hadn’t consumed 25g of sugar quickly the result would’ve been quite unhealthy.

Non-starchy vegetables have negligible sugar. Diabetics can eat as much as they want. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat...

Starchy vegetables like potato, corn, and peas are nutritionally distinct from non-starchy veggies. But their sugar is packaged with vegetable fibre, which results in slower absorption than if you drank the same amount of sugar in liquid form on an empty stomach.

It feels a bit redundant to point out to a T1D that fruits are far higher in sugar than non-starchy veggies, which is why OP specifically mentioned fruit sources of sugar.

I'm sure the people you intend to help with this idea, don't care.

We already have diet soda, yet people choose full sugar.

Edit, the downvotes + comments in reply really tell the story. People don't care if things are unhealthy, if it tastes good, they do it. This exactly reflects the original comment, even if people don't want to hear it.

I have a soda maybe once a month, but I never drink diet soda because I think it tastes very bad compared to non-diet. Every variety of Coke that is not regular Coke leaves a weird aftertaste in my mouth (you know, distinct from the weird aftertaste of consuming a ridiculous amount of sugar).

I will also say that seeing the quantity of sugar in things represented as a pile was definitely a motivator for me to basically stop drinking soda, so there are people out there for whom it matters. At least one, anyway!

I must strongly disagree with this. Diet Coke has a very aspartame-y taste but Coke Zero is incredibly close to original Coke with 0 sugar. The trade-off of Coke Zero vs. regular Coke to me seems like a no-brainer!

I assume there's a very strong element of personal taste here. I agree that Coke Zero is way, way better than Diet Coke, but it's still weird compared to regular Coke, to my taste anyway. I'd rather not drink soda than drink Coke Zero. I also don't have a giant attachment to drinking soda, so when I do it, I want to optimize for enjoyment.

I can't stand Coke Zero myself, better maybe, but still very weird aftertaste. I like those V8 Vanilla Raspberry energy drinks and I thought they were made with real sugar, until I added a can of it to a smoothie with real fruit.

"Strange, my smoothie tastes like it has artificial sugar now" I thought, come to find out they're made with Splenda and I couldn't tell before that.

I drink Diet Coke exclusively (as far as sodas) and (because it's what I'm used to, likely), I feel about Coke the same way you feel about Diet Code. It takes weird to me.

Personal taste. I love diet coke but don't like coke zero.

Diet sodas aren't better for your health though, in fact they may be worse.

> Diet sodas aren't better for your health though, in fact they may be worse.

"May be worse" is hard to argue when one has direct, obvious negative effects and the other has a series of much more weakly linked possible results.

Here's a journal article that removes that "may" https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/95/4/909/4576821

I don't see a comparison of that to full sugar drinkers.

Citation needed

Like most of the comments on this thread.

I dont know about that. I think having a visual representation of the sugar contents could work quite well especially for people who don't tend to read labels.

I drink soda only two or three times a year. The few times I’ve accidentally had diet soda it was personally unappetizing: it had a strong metallic after-taste... I’m told people get used to it. But why spend the time getting used to it when I can enjoy a Mexican Coca Cola with real sugar?

I suddenly got type 1 diabetes and did indeed find that diet cola started tasting a lot more “normal” pretty quickly, while I had hated it before. Still, if you don’t have the same health issues, I’m not sure if there’s a reason to switch. It seems either one should be had in moderation.

Real sugar? Do you mean Cane Sugar? It's chemically identical to beet sugar. You have been duped. I know this because I work with sugar companies.

Coke in the US is made with high fructose corn syrup. That’s why Mexican coke is often imported: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Coke

Which is still fructose and glucose. In the article you linked Mexican Coke has similar levels of both of those so it's chemically nearly identical...

People can tell the difference in blind taste tests: https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/09/the-food-lab-drinks-e... (though in this case, most of the Americans preferred American coke)

yeah, but the stuff with sugar tastes better.

people should be encouraged to enjoy soda with real (cane) sugar sparingly, not just switch to slamming diet soda all day instead.

I thought the diet stuff was supposed to be bad for health? I can't keep up...

It's almost certainly not good for you, but it's also almost certainly better for you than the full-sugar version.


Suggests otherwise, diet soda results in obesity and diabetes at a rate approaching 2:1 when compared to regular.

It turns out that trying to fool our systems with "reduced fat" and "reduced sugar" results in our bodies not being fooled.

Diet soda is much worse than regular. It causes more weight gain than sugar, has crazy drug interactions, and some people have adverse health reactions to some of the sweeteners (which are not always prominently labeled).

This has been debunked. It’s not that diet soda “causes” weight gain, the studies show that people eat more because they think drinking diet soda gives them a license to do so.

The old I am going to order a double quarter pounder with cheese, large fries, and a Diet Coke.



> has crazy drug interactions, and some people have adverse health reactions to some of the sweeteners (which are not always prominently labeled).

I haven't heard anything about this. Do you have a source? The second item strikes me as the same health reactions non-celiac "gluten sensitives" get.

I have an adverse reaction to sorbitol that causes me quite nasty upset stomachs. It's a fairly well known effect from that particular sweetener and is fairly easy to avoid, though.

and for some evidence: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/sorbitol-side-effects.html

> We already have diet soda, yet people choose full sugar.

We already have science that shows diet sodas increase diabetes and obesity almost 2 for 1 (through calorie) craving and are in many ways worse (calcium malabsorption) than high fructose corn syrup.

Then we have you ignoring the science, and saying just choose diet soda.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not see any conclusion in that study that diet drinks are worse than non-diet drinks regarding metabolic syndrome (only that diet drinks might also be bad to some degree).

A study analysing 36000 deaths and 3 million person-years (published by the American Heart Association) found a 21% increase in all cause mortality among those consuming 2 or more sugar sweetened beverages per day. Consuming 2 or more artificially sweetened beverages, on the other hand, was associated with only a 4% increase. And moderate consumtion of artificially sweetened beverages (< 2 per day) was actually, unlike sugar, associated with decreased mortality. [1]

[1] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA....

You’d end up with much wider cans and packages so the line looked lower.

Taxing sugary drinks is working pretty well here in the UK it's hard to avoid the discussion when your portion of a meal's bill is higher because of your sugar.

Do these warnings actually do anything? In CA almost anything has a cancer warning. I don’t even look at them anymore.

To me these warnings are a way to say “we are doing something “ but I doubt they really have an effect.

Considering how messed up American eating habits are I have no idea how they could be changed.

I agree that blanket warning messages tend to help very little.

However, I do find that actual data does influence my behavior. I’ve been particularly surprised at how much calorie information published on restaurant menus impacts my decisions.

So, rather than a general warning that will be so widely published that it’ll be ignored, give me more data. If you can make the data visual, even better.

For example, you’ll note on food labels that the sugar is represented in grams, but there’s no associated percentage like there is for the other items on the label. When you show me that this bottle of Coke contains double what I should consume for an entire day I think that will help me and will also incentivize manufactures to think more about the sugar content they add.

Yeah if they just replaced grams with teaspoons as was proposed originally in the 70s, the data would be a lot more accessible.

This would be incredibly annoying when you actually want to record it. We should be using more metric measurements, not less.

This is true, and I’m all for metric, but this isn’t a question of imperial vs metric. It’s about taking this intentionally obscured data and making it accessible and understandable for people. The food industry lobbied to have it presented in this technical way for a reason.

I guess best would be if every can of soda had a picture of the amount of sugar in it. That may illustrate things nicely and understandably. Most people don't really connect numbers and measurements to reality.

Screw the scientists. They're smart enough to do the unit conversions.

Values for the general public should be in the units the general public uses for those things.

They don't even need to be using more metric measurements, just stop using volume measurement for things that are much better suited for weight measurements.

I agree. Metric makes it much easier to compare things.

agreed - if someone asked me to measure out 50 grams of sugar i have no idea how much that would be

About 4 tablespoons of sugar.

Aka a quarter cup. (Yay imperial units!)

That's roughly what's done in the UK (maybe EU wide - not sure), and red, amber, green colour coded.

Then it's rendered useless for at a glance. The only thing that seems to survive as intended is the colour coding.

A bar of chocolate might have a "portion size" of 8 squares, but give daily amounts and percentage thereof based on 4 or 2 squares. Presumably so they can avoid having to state that a portion is 235% of some recommended daily amount.

Some portion sizes are ridiculous - like half a can or bottle where most would drink all. The "traffic light" sizes are equally ridiculous, but very often different. Both are often different to the amount most regular folks would eat or drink.

The reason nutrition labels dont work is because nobody knows how to put things in relation. How much sugar should be in this item? How much fiber should I eat in a day? The government tried to fix this issue with food pyramids, plates, etc, but were corroded by propaganda, and/or poor understanding of nutrition. A gallon of water a day is ridiculous for most. Your diet is really dependent on how active you are, among several other factors. Nutrition is not a one size fits all type of thing.

We dont really understand proper nutrition yet. Recommendations are constantly changing, what used to be good is now bad, and vice versa. Companies just need to continue telling us what is in our food, and let us do our best.

Adding a percentage based statistic wont help because daily intake stats are wide guesses at best, and most people dont care anyway.

The most effective way to teach nutrition is by cooking. When people can see what is going into their food, they naturally use less. Also, try changing your diet a bit, and feel how it effects your mood. Other than that, if someone wants to make bad decisions, thats their choice. There is no need for these aggressive campaigns against sugar like the sugar line proposed above.

At this point I think I'm with Denis Leary on this one: Take the warning labels off everything and let nature run its course for a few generations.

I think we're already doing that now

Despite being presented with some data (kcal info) you don't know how to interpret it. It is, in fact, irrelevant. Calorie data is not helpful in determining proper eating habits. The actually useful measure is average meal insulin index times food quantity. This is a better metric of obesification since insulin drives weight gain.

You're being pedantic here. If you're counting calories and trying to stay within some sort of range you're probably going to be OK - especially if you're working out even a little bit.

If the calorie info makes you choose a salad over a plate of fried food covered in grease it is 100% doing its job.

Not an expert, but I do take an interest in nutrition and read a reasonable amount on it, and it does appear that glycemic load is more and insulin spiking is important to overall health than calories to me from what I read.

Admitadly I may have a bias as i am not overweight, and my interest is in being healthy rather than loosing weight.

Well, the calorie estimate is also just that, an estimate. So you don't even know what the real number is.

Still I have found that it gives you enough of a heuristic to be effective when you do pay close attention. (Source: I lost 100 lbs over 18 months)

Good job with the weight loss!

Or just a macronutrient breakdown.

A diverse diet consisting of low average insulin index foods is the ticket to a long health span. No need to watch macros as long as the diet meets this criteria.

Can you tell me more? This is a bold claim, I'm curious what are you basing your apparent confidence on.

I saw something similar a couple of months back, can't remember where it was off the top off my head.

It may have been one of Jason Fung's youtube videos - he is an MD and big proponent of intermittent fasting. (As a side not intermittent fasting has been used to reverse type 2 diabetes. Lack of insulin sensitivity would seems to be a big problem).

Chile applied a similar policy in 2016. Clear warnings are displayed in high fructose / high fat processed food. According to at least a study, consumption of soft drinks with sugar added decreased by 25% in about 2 years. The sellers tried to avoid having the warnings so they decreased their sugar levels in their foods as well.

Your comment is the only one I’ve seen cite data so far. I couldn’t quickly find that study. Can you cite it?

I did find this reference to a more qualitative but I think still useful study: https://www.foodnavigator-latam.com/Article/2019/02/20/Chile...

Sorry, I should have linked to my sources after citing them.

These articles, from what I consider some reputable sources cite the study (in Spanish), which original version I could not find:




California is big enough that manufacturers do not always package a separate product (without the warning) for other regions. Up here in Canada I'm happy to see the California Proposition 65 warnings on furniture purchased via Amazon and Wayfair.

Agreed, it's easy to become desensitized. That said, I would have otherwise not been aware of the issue at all! So the labels do help (me) with general awareness. And although I can't always avoid it, I'm now on the lookout for furniture made without these types of chemicals. I would have been clueless sans warning.

Big box restaurants here have to post calorie counts on their menus, and while I still can't believe my favourite burger combo is over 2400 calories (lunch), and I can't resist most of the time, it's got me thinking. Like maybe once per week, and then go for something not so heavy on the calories.

A counter point article I just read - graphic health warnings on cigarette packages losing their impact, study shows: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/graphic-health-warnings...

But they did / still do have an impact.

The problem with prop 65 is that it has a ridiculously low bar for evidence of harm for chemicals to be placed on the list. So the list is full of things that were found to cause cancer when fed to rats at ridiculously high doses, and then not found to cause cancer in human studies.

Like acrylamide, which has landed every restaurant a prop 65 warning because it is present in literally all baked goods and also coffee.

That's a more difficult problem to solve. Can we trust these warnings? Do we err on the side of caution? Seems like some humans are more sensitive than others to certain chemicals, and that there's motivation from both sides .. corporate and even political.

Imagine a warning label: this product known to cause global warming in a test environment ....

> Can we trust these warnings?

If we 'trusted' all prop 65 warnings, nobody would ever enter a building, as all of them have that warning tag on them somewhere.

Risk vs. reward?

Do these warnings actually do anything?

It seems very likely that the warnings will work to some extent based on existing packaging. Anything that can be considered "healthy", even for the most dubious and small health claims, has it written on the front in big bold letters. That would imply that what goes on the packet does influence the consumer. It's possible that positive messaging has a greater impact than negative messaging, but that's something that would need studying.

Considering how messed up American eating habits are I have no idea how they could be changed.

Putting warnings on things and measuring the change would be a great place to start.

“Putting warnings on things and measuring the change would be a great place to start.”

From what I see people see the warnings and calories counts and they know that these foods are not good. But they really don’t seem to know how to eat right. I hear stuff like “You don’t get enough protein from vegetarian food” or they think eating be an appetizer plus a full dinner is healthy as long as it’s organic. Or they eat baked potato chips instead of fried. The perception of what the body needs is so far from reality that it will be really hard to change.

>Do these warnings actually do anything?

"Not for sale in California" is basically a marketable feature when it comes to any chemical that you expect to be nasty and bad for your health in the first place (like paints and cleaning products).

True - I know people who buy deck stain out of state, as the stuff from Nevada lasts for more than 1/2 a season before breaking down...

> “we are doing something “

Spot on. All of the issues Californians face and this is all they can accomplish? Another warning label? The largest economy in the US and this is it? What a shithole. Literally.

Australian cigarette packs look absolutely disgusting, and back when I lived there, seemed to have a clear effect on people.

I will be forever angry at what the state in most places has done to cigarettes. It's absolutely amazing that they can force someone to do something to heinous in their product.

If you had to pick between people doing heinous things to cigarettes or cigarettes doing heinous things to people, which would you choose?

Not exactly Sophie's choice, I don't think.

Not using the power of the state to humiliate anyone on the whims of a majority sentiment.

What's wrong with showing someone the likely long-term consequences of using a product? How is that humiliating at all?

I cannot understand your problem at all, except that a government agency has placed certain restrictions on a certain type of product packaging, which seems entirely non-controversial to me.

Have you asked a smoker what they think and feel about it?

Are they happy the product they buy tells them they are going to have a gruesome medical condition?

And do you smoke? And do you advocate for the same imagery on products also associated to gruesome conditions but products you use, like computers, cars, food, buildings, government, etc?

As a non-smoker, I find it pretty gross what they do (here in Canada). Pictures of needles being poked into eyes with boosted contrast, boosted green component... I get where people are coming from, but it seems unjust in principle what they're doing.

Maybe it should only apply to companies which have engaged in fraudulent IFR.

It's a heinous product that does horrible things to people, so good. This is an industry that intentionally targets children to sell them addictive, carcinogenic, toxic, foul-smelling items for profit.

You could say the same about cheese, coffee, cars, alcohol, etc.

How about having to put a picture of a pregnant woman being run over on the hood of every tesla, to remind about the murderous and gruesome reality of the manslaughters of the autoindustry?

The difference is not the product, its the popular sentiment that legitimizes a terrible overreach of state power.

As far as the overall utility to harmfulness ratio, I'm sure cigarettes lose compared to those products. It's like comparing crack to cell phones. Yes, they are both somewhat addictive. However, one has demonstrable utility, and the other doesn't, even for narcoleptics.

The discussion of whether the use of state power to regulate products is appropriate is a potentially lengthy political discussion that isn't worth starting here.

You could say the same about cheese, coffee, cars, alcohol, etc.

No. Cigarettes have no positive purpose. They are 100% negative and a society is well served by discouraging their use.

Everything you listed has a positive purpose with the mere potential of being misused.

You can usually plot people's beliefs on what deserves punishing imagery with this convenient formula:

Uses it: don't punish

Doens't: punish

You can usually plot people's beliefs on what deserves punishing imagery with this convenient formula

Similarly, you can usually plot people's feelings on cigarettes with:

Addicted: rationalizes their use

Not Addicted: doesn't rationalize their use

Sure, I agree.

Intentionally targets children?

The fact that it is illegal for children is what is going to give them the most appeal.

They geared their advertising specifically towards adolescents. Any targeted group subjected to to advertising is affected by it. In the case of children, they are especially vulnerable to advertising. In much of Europe, it's not legal to advertise anything directly to children, much less addictive drugs.

That's not fixed with bad imagery. Thats another problem that happen also to cars, bikes, alcohol, etc.

Sounds like warning pollution to me. Not just ineffectual but actually harmful.


This bill is even worse than warning pollution. It has carve outs for some of the most unhealthy drinks, so the warnings would be intentionally misleading.

It reminds me of the Real(TM) milk brand. They spent decades lobbying against organic dairy and specialty cheese producers, so the label is now synonymous with “processed fake crap”, at least in my mind.

I’m sure some reputable dairy producers in the US apply the Real logo to their product, but I don’t give their products a second glance at the store.

Does advertising do anything - if it doesn't why do companies spend so much money on it?

This is basically a type of pro health advertising. We have anti smoking advertising which has shown to be effective (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-19/australias-plain-pack...).

I think with a good advertisement strategy it can be very effective.

The cancer warnings are to the point where we need to let people put a “nothing in this product is known to cause cancer in the state of California” smiley face sticker on things.

Many stores just have blanket warnings that most products they sell cause cancer and contain bpa.

> Considering how messed up American eating habits are I have no idea how they could be changed.

They're actually getting better, but the government will probably take credit for that like usual.

“but the government will probably take credit for that like usual.”

It doesn’t really matter as long as things are improving. Go ahead and credit the free market if it makes you feel better.

Well, it does matter, in the sense that the government gets more expensive (and in the particular places where it is wasted) when people think the things they're doing are what's helping. When the government gets more expensive, the people get poorer, especially the people of the future.

I wouldn't be surprised if they make things worse, due to some sort of saturation effect.

People generally don't respond well to nagging.

1c/gram of added sugar as a tax would be much more effective.

The problem is that unnatural sweeteners produce a similar insulin response as sugar, and also disrupt gut biota. We need to restrict sweeteners overall.

As an addendum, if you're looking to lose fat, consume zero sugar: no sweets, no juice, no sweeteners, no added sugar in anything - is the most effective way to do it. You will have to inspect the labels of any processed food you buy though.

I cut out all refined carbs for a while and it was surprising to me how much my appetite changed. Normally I have a hard time leaving sugary things alone if they're nearby. But after a few weeks of not eating them, I just didn't care. I look forward to trying the experiment again soon.

I have done that too but somehow the habit seems to always come back. As it seems to have happened to you.

It takes about 3 months for me to adapt to my paleo regiment. My hybrid of Dr Terry Wahls' Minding Your Mitochontria, Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Body, and calorie restriction. Works great for as long as I do it.

Reverting takes about 1 week.

My TLDR: It's super hard to avoid comfort food while in pain. Now that I've experienced this cause & effect a few times, I'm hoping to learn better strategies.

Yeah, same. Stress reversion is a real thing.

> The problem is that unnatural sweeteners produce a similar insulin response as sugar

Has this been demonstrated in humans? I've heard this many times before but have been unable to find any human studies to support it, and the mice studies I've seen often use ludicrously high dosages of the sweeteners.

Yes, artificial sweeteners have repeatedly been shown to cause more weight gain than equivalent sugar, and human studies back that up.

Here is a brief survey of studies showing the effect in humans:


None of the studies in that survey actually support the claim I questioned though, which is specifically about insulin response in humans. Further, they don't even support your claim that artificial sweeteners cause _more_ weight gain than equivalent sugar.

imo a big problem with these kinds of studies is the huge number of confounding factors. They tend to be studies that select participants who report drinking diet soda and those who report not drinking it, without taking into the account the fundamental lifestyle differences between the two. This is also why I'm interested in specific, measurable things that are known to cause problems, such as insulin response.

It is very common for overweight people to replace sugary soda with diet soda without making any other lifestyle changes. It is unsurprising that this doesn't yield positive results over the long-term. People who report drinking no soda, diet or otherwise, are likely already leading healthier lifestyles than those who report drinking diet soda regularly. Without controlling for these factors properly all that's really being said is that "healthier lifestyles are better for controlling weight".

I agree that diet soda is probably worse than no soda, but I haven't seen any evidence to support the idea that diet soda is worse than sugary soda when consumed in otherwise identical diets.

> shown to cause more weight gain than equivalent sugar

The article you link doesn't say that. First, almost nothing in it even talks about real sugar. Second, it specifically starts with in the first paragraph "doesn’t prove that diet drinks and artificial sweeteners cause weight gain" and then goes on to have more paragraphs of speculation on correlation. But nothing mentioned in that article demonstrates a causal effect, and definitely not more than equivalent sugar. There's a lot of "may be" and "may cause" in there. Emphasis on may.

The diet soda doesn’t “cause” weight gain. At most it leads people to overindulge because they did one thing “healthy”. Saying diet soda causes weight gain is like saying eating at Subway causes weight gain because people go there and eat pizza, ice cream and cookies because they think it’s healthier.

I don't have cites. But my bro assisted research studies at uni back in the late 80s that established this connection. The notion at the time was the body produces insulin to match the perceived sweetness, vs the actual amount of carbs to metabolize. The kicker is the excess insulin then works on otherwise useful protein. So in effect, artificially sweetener is worse than just straight sweet.

I've never read anything to contradict this. I have no idea what the state of the art is today.

Also, I do know it'd be a mistake to generalize insulin response across non-diabetic, type 1, and type 2 people.

The other problem is that even sugar-free sweeteners keep you suckling on the tit of sweetness addiction.

They produce nice, high paid government jobs at the agencies that are in charge of managing such programs.

This is the question no-one seems to ask. The over-saturation could be an issue, as it causes numbness to the warnings and actually makes warnings as a whole less effective. I thought there was something I read that had actual research on the impact, but I don't have it and can't cite it, so take this with a grain of salt.

As long as it also applies to juice. It's usually the same amount of "bad sugar" but since it says "orange" on the bottle, people think it's healthy...

Or even some "coffee" drinks.

Black coffee? Pretty healthy, just water and caffeine. 0 calories. 0g sugar. 0g sodium.

A Starbucks "White Chocolate Mocha"? 530 calories, 320mg of sodium, 69g of sugar per 20 oz "Venti" serving. That's twice as many calories as a 20 oz Coke, with twice as much sodium, and higher sugar levels.

Nobody is defending soda here. Just pointing out, this good idea needs to be applied consistently or people will switch from "unhealthy" soda to "healthy" coffee drinks or "healthy" fruit juices both of which can have scary-high sugar too.

I like the "color code" system they have in Europe[0]. You buy a soda and it has a red warning on the sugar/salt levels.

[0] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/images/cache/537bf3c6516df64581...

The "soda tax" in Philly doesn't apply to Starbucks, there was some suggestion that it may of been purposefully excluded due to lobbying efforts though I haven't looked too deeply.

It looks like Seattle has a similar exemption: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/fancy-lat...

Exemptions like these make me pause, I can see the point of such a law (though I'm libertarian and not in favor) but when exemptions like that are made I find it hard to take seriously. If the state was concerned with sweetened beverages they would apply the same measures to all of them. Taxing or applying warning labels to soda alone strikes me as a classist move as if the lower classes are too dumb to read the nutrition information.

1 cup of black coffee has <5 cals according to the internet, not 0. it's basically 0 but i think it's important to be precise when it comes to diet.

Most sources list it as 0 or 1 calories. Additionally considering that caffeine may increase your RMR ("Resting Metabolic Rate") by 3% or more[0][1], if you want to be "precise" it may be more accurate to say that black coffee contains negative calories.

So how precise do you need it to be? 0, 1, <5, or -1, -5 calories? Or is this just pedantic nitpicking?

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7486839

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2912010

>it may be more accurate to say that black coffee contains negative calories.

Calorie has a pretty specific definition. What makes you feel like the scientific definition doesn't work for you?

5 cals can really be rounded down to zero. It's important to also focus on the big picture.

No, actually if one is making a decision whether or not to drink black coffee while fasting, it is interesting and actionable data.

I do in fact drink black coffee in a fasted state and if it had 5 calories (which I don't believe it does) I would choose not to ...

5 calories will not take your body out of its fasting state... unless you're being religious about it

This makes me think of premature optimization. There is such thing as energy homeostasis in biology. Most things about diet are going to be imprecise, and the target system is adapted to imprecision.

Just imagine the calories in a Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet'N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice.

This is the longest possible order you could order at Starbucks. Once you have ordered this, you cannot order anything larger.

I don’t think you can extra-hot and ice.

However, you could probably add “half syrup” modifiers or something. “In my personal reusable insulated starbucks mug” has a lot of characters in it.

Also I don’t see the words nitro or blonde in there.

Remember the poor person at the counter can accept more modification requests than the app.

Keep working on it. :-)

The situation is more nuanced and complicated with fruit juice . Too much is probably bad for you, but moderate amounts have been shown to have health benefits. In poorer areas many can afford juice but not whole fruit.


same as milk. milk (even the "fatfree" one) has a ton of sugar. should we also place a warning on milk?

we should also start labeling fruits. because sugar.

if you ask me this is a bit ridiculous. If you don't get that soda/soft-drinks aren't exactly good for you a warning is not going to help you.

> As long as it also applies to juice.

Agreed! Also would like to see full health warnings for each of the non-sugar sweeteners, colors, preservatives, etc.; anything with studies showing it's bad.

Flavored (and sweetened) milk drinks have already been given a special exemption from the rules, with no particular reason stated.

I'd like to be able to debate the fundamental merits of labelling and public-interest laws like this. But in practice I just end up opposing them because they're reliably full of stupid loopholes and special-interest favoritism.

This is a situation where we can rank preferences:

1. Worst case scenario - no sugary drinks are labeled 2. Partial progress - Some sugary drinks are labeled (Soda) 3. Full progress - All sugary drinks are labeled.

I wouldn't try to slow the momentum by fighting 2 if 3 is the ultimate goal.

I have no objection to labeling juice based on sugar content. But you can't really state that a particular juice is "healthy" or "unhealthy". It depends on the quantity.

I’m not sure I agree with this. I’d prefer regulating advertising of sweetened products in general. Health warnings cancer risk notices or labels have so overwhelmed the senses, you take it as a fact of life. But advertising is the big piece of bait that gets us to consume these things.

On a tangential note, these cancer risk warnings should not be binary. They should have a risk value or class. Asbestos class 1, smoking/air pollution 1, new carpet outgassing 3, drinking beer 4, etc. so people have an idea if a risk is tolerable or not. Otherwise it’s just a kind of waiver/risk indemnification for the one putting up the warning.

Monning amended the bill to exempt flavored milk drinks

Why? (By the by, he started his career as a lawyer for a major farmworkers union. Draw your own conclusions.)

So something like a McDonalds Milkshake, which has 60g of sugar is exempt?

That's kind of insane.

Of course... politicians shan't suffer their own legislation while sipping their Starbucks lattes with whipped cream and drizzles. ;)

he already had to deal with the legislature being bribed(or as americans call it "lobbied") by soft drink industry. adding more money to the bribes would have killed his bill

As much as I believe that sugar is poison and that obesity and diabetes are some of our biggest health problems in this country, a failed education system has contributed largely to the situation.

The "health advice" I received in school was clearly geared towards the promotion of high carbohydrate foods and sugars while villainizing macronutrients like dietary fat and cholesterol. Every school I attended sold processed snack foods and sugary drinks. My elementary school sold cinnamon rolls floating in a bath of glaze, and they were cheap. Periods of outdoor activity were no more than half an hour, and we were discouraged from running because it was "dangerous". We were never taught how to interpret the Nutrition Facts on food labels, or about net carbs, the insulin response, etc. As I mentioned in a recent thread about skipping breakfast, we actually had industry shills come in and promote breakfast as the "most important meal of the day" while encouraging us to eat plenty of fruits and "slow carbs". Nobody ever told me that, once you gain fat, the fat swells and shrinks but doesn't go away and results in saggy skin if you lose a lot of weight. In fact, consequences to anything were rarely taught, except when it came to passing tests. This was Californian education in a wealthy town.

Education isn't a panacea, but in it's current form, it's a joke. Labels will cause some people to take sugar more seriously, yet we could be doing so much more by admitting that we've failed children for generations. Year after year, it's excuses from politicians, school boards, and parents. Health warnings on food is just duct tape.

I've been out of the public education system for 12 years, so maybe things have vastly improved since then? Someone please tell me so. When I bring this up either on HN or offline, my argument is ridiculed for being reductive, and yet nobody denies that the education system badly needs improvement or that education plays a role in the development of young minds.

I want people to be warned about the dangers of sugar intake, but if we're not going to give people the tools to help themselves in the first place, then these warnings serve to infantilize the public for the sake of cost savings.

This is a good point. However, labelling might be a good alternative to the sugary drink taxes that many places are currently voting in favor of.

Chile applied a similar policy in 2016. Clear warnings are displayed in high fructose / high fat processed food.

According to at least a study, consumption of soft drinks high in sugar decreased by 25% in about 2 years.

The sellers tried to avoid having the warnings so they decreased their sugar levels in their foods as well, or had them replaced them by sweeteners instead.

Don't you find any moral issue in the state using its power to modify behavior?

Is the citizen subdued to the state, or does the state work for the citizen?

I don't see a moral issue with this. The state is using its power to help ensure individuals have pertinent information with which to make health-impacting decisions. Individuals are using their power to decide whether, given that information, they wish to modify their own behavior.

Same question for you, except private corporations. Inundation with advertising is exactly private corporations using their power to modify behavior.

The only difference I see is that the government has your best interest in mind (ostensibly, of course, don't mistake me for thinking it really does). Advertisers do not.

I'm free to choose whether or not I do business with a corporation selling sugary drinks which I already know to be bad for me, whose power to modify my behavior rests on its ability to convince they can improve my enjoyment of life.

I'm much less free to choose whether I comply with the government, whose power to modify behavior is ultimately derived from the threat of men with guns coming to lock me in a concrete cell.

Advertising is memetic pollution but I'll still take it any day, every time over government compulsion; the equivocation of the two is ludicrous.

There should definitely be limits to what advertising is allowed to do and what spaces its allowed to use.

Advertising, however, survives only because it finds the people interested in the products. When the government does it, it survives on people that pay for it at the risk of going to jail. The standard of what government can do is infinitely higher, because it can do something against everyone and do it forever.

Actually I think is either the state, or the corporations via advertising.

At the end they are not more than a warning, it's not like they are forbidden.

You are paying taxes so the state tells you you shouldn't do what you want.

There is a case against advertising and consent, but the label is absolutely against consent. You would never pay someone to tell you not to do something you want to do.

>You would never pay someone to tell you not to do something you want to do.

It's probably not the best idea to tell people what they will and will not do. A more accurate phrasing would have been:

> I would never pay someone to tell me not to do something I want to do.

That aside, I definitely would tell the state to warn me about things I want to do, if there's a good basis behind that warning. I would also pay the state to tell others who may have not had made the time/effort to research it.

This isn't limited to the state. People often pay professionals who in turn advise them not to do what they want to do - lawyers, nutritionists, doctors, therapists, tax professionals, real estate professionals, etc.

> Don't you find any moral issue in the state using its power to modify behavior?

Um, no? That's kind of the purpose of having a state.

Only to those who think of themselves as servants.

>Don't you find any moral issue in the state using its power to modify behavior?

As long as they don't prevent that behavior: No. In this particular case, they're not even adding a tax.

There's a long history of the state doing it in more draconian ways (fines for seatbelts, non-functioning lights etc). Fines in some cities for not maintaining the lawn.

Most people are in favor of some of these, and not for others.

The state can use its propaganda machine for the things that run the state care about. For example, be good and pay your taxes, don't complain, zoning is not an issue, etc.

How do you eliminate the conflict of interest between the people that run the state and the behavior they want to imprint in society?

Are you saying any type of regulation by the state therefore is a moral issue?

If its intended to change behavior: yes.

"The beverage known to the state of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm and also obesity"

Great, another thing everyone will ignore. Literally nobody pays attention to these warning labels. And further, the more things get labelled, the less trust and confidence people put in existing labels.

Every single Starbucks in California has a sign somewhere warning you that their coffee causes cancer. Does this make people drink less coffee? Or does it just make people ignore experts when they say things cause cancer?

The World will be a much better place once more people recognize how important it is to eat healthy. Not because it has some miraculous effects on the environment, either.

A wholesome and mindful diet will change you as a human being. I'm perplexed as to how a country as big as the USA is living in the "stone age of food".

I've had great success this year to cut out refined sugar entirely. I have stopped adding it to my coffee, too. And let me tell you, the withdrawal symptoms are not nice.

When I visited California I chuckled every time I went into a restaurant with

blah blah blah "known by the state of California to cause cancer" blah blah blah

signs above the door...

This is actually a good thing, and should be international. A lot of the drinks available in stores are absolutely terrible for you - some people consume such drinks on a daily basis, even multiple times.

And unlike food they don't make you feel full or sated. Instead in many cases they actually make you thirstier.

Their addictiveness and dangerousness is under-estimated. It isn't quite smoking tiers bad, but if it was ranked it would likely be the next one down below smoking/vaping in terms of having a negative larger social impact (with drug use being above smoking of course).

I'm unfamiliar with the topic. I know that sodas are loaded with sugar, but what about these energy drinks with 0 sugar? Wouldn't the only really bad thing about them is that they corrode your teeth like soda does?


> After reviewing the current studies surrounding the risks tied to energy drinks, researchers concluded that they might be associated with a wide-ranging slew of health problem. You might already know that energy drinks can screw with your sleep, make you gain weight, or even spike your blood pressure. But overarching evidence suggests they may lead to substance abuse, mental health problems, a higher diabetes risk, tooth decay, and kidney damage, too.

(Note that artificial sweeteners are probably worse for weight gain than sugar, not sure what you mean by 0 sugar...)

I was buying unhealthy amounts of Diet Pepsi so that I could drink something other than water when I was hungry. One Saturday I had like 10 cans, including two right before bed. No sodas left on Sunday... start having caffeine withdrawals and had to make myself a cup of coffee.

Also, when I really get deep in my "addiction" to diet sodas it's hard to break out, water becomes so boring.

Studies lately are showing that artificial sweeteners are just as bad if not worse for you than sugar.

Apparently aside from the nasty chemicals, they still trigger an insulin response which makes your blood glucose crash and makes you crave sweet, fatty foods.

I find that exceedingly hard to believe. Sources, please. And I don't want a single study concluding sweeteners might affect gut biome in rats or might provoke some insulin secretion. I want serious, reputable studies claiming sweeteners are worse than sugar, a substance arguably killing more people per year than tobacco.

To provide some real data to the discussion, a study analysing 36000 deaths and 3 million person-years (published by the American Heart Association) found a 21% increase in all cause mortality among those consuming 2 or more sugar sweetened beverages per day. Consuming 2 or more artificially sweetened beverages, on the other hand, was associated with only a 4% increase. And moderate consumtion of artificially sweetened beverages (< 2 per day) was actually, unlike sugar, associated with decreased mortality. [1]

The way sweeteners are discussed in relation to sugar is often fear-mongering and disconnected from reality. It's like equating a sewing needle to a gun because the needle might also theoretically be dangerous in some circumstances.

[1] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA....

Dentist here - I’m generally for people to do whatever they want - I see every day firsthand what sugar does to people. Both in terms of diabetes, their general health, and especially their teeth. I take it that everything in excess is a poison. The threshold from when sugar becomes a poison is very very low. We eat, as Americans, way too much of the stuff.

A few years ago I was talking to friend who lives in Peru. He was finishing his studies in something similar to a Computer Science degree. Despite being a well educated person he did not understand that refined sugar was basically nutritionally superfluous, that it was this pure chemical substance that one regularly obtains (in some sufficiently equivalent form) from all sorts of food. It is hard for people to wrap their head around the fact that a whole powerful industry can exist to produce something so harmful and superfluous (and at the very same time destroy the environment).

Warnings sound nice, like we're doing something, but they do not work.

The only thing that works is increased prices or laws to restrict public use.

We know this from years of alcohol and tobacco policy.

If we want to change people's behaviours we need to tax soda and fruit juices.

> Warnings sound nice, like we're doing something, but they do not work.

Oh yes the warnings do indeed work its part. My kids are terrified of the warnings that appear on my wife's cigarettes, and they bully her mercilessly whenever she smokes, to the point that it is reducing her usage a good deal.

Of course, warnings alone are not enough. But they are necessary. I hope in a few years all sugary beverages will have scary warnings with pictures of caries; just as tobacco has today.

> My kids are terrified of the warnings that appear on my wife's cigarettes, and they bully her mercilessly whenever she smokes, to the point that it is reducing her usage a good deal.

The mark of a successful policy, turning kids against their mother.

> The mark of a successful policy, turning kids against their mother.

It's actually the opposite. The kids are very much for the well-being of their mother, and they are honestly worried that she may get ill.

> The Junior Spies is an organization of children who monitor adults for disloyalty to the Party, and frequently succeed in catching them—Mrs. Parsons herself seems afraid of her zealous children. The children are very agitated because their mother won’t let them go to a public hanging of some of the Party’s political enemies in the park that evening

Better this than the bloody ‘Sugar Tax’ levied on drinks with a certain minimum percentage of sugar in them we have here in the UK - all it's done is lead to price increases and swapping out of sugar for artificial sweeteners.

Debates about the negative impact of synthetic sweeteners aside, they taste bloody awful, so now most of my favourite childhood treats are dead to me.

I’m kind of conflicted. This may help to drink less sugar, but it may desensitise everyone for much more dangerous stuff, like alcohol and cigarettes when they are put on the same level

I don't think it's given that dietary failure is less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes.

You should take the average human being into consideration.

"heh, they put this ridiculous warning of everything, bunch of p..." will be said very, very often, and then disregarded altogether.

It's a good starting point, at least, but we need more. But I can't figure out a way that will make people do better decisions for their health AND leave it entirely up to them. Both of those conditions can't hold in the same time, as far as I can see.

I think what would be better for everyone is highlighting say nutritional density of foods + perhaps how much processing occurred, and perhaps in percentages: steak, as an example and perhaps not correct, would be "100%" nutrient dense with "0%" processed.

The correct answer is to remove the subsidies. Stop subsidizing HFCS. Properly price water.

Until then, localities should tax and thwart soda and juice as though they are killing us, just like tobacco and alcohol.

Non-spy-walled story on the same topic:


I went into a Burger King in Spain the other day and noticed that all sodas are diet with the exception being Coke that was also offered with sugar. I ended up drinking water instead.

Soda/cold drinks industry of today is the tobacco industry of 60s and 70s. How can an individual consume daily and voluntarily hundreds of grams of sugars and sweeteners?

> How can an individual consume daily and voluntarily hundreds of grams of sugars and sweeteners?

How can an individual smoke 20 cigarettes a day and voluntarily consume known carcinogens?

- It is addictive

- It feels good/gives you a buzz

You compared it to the tobacco industry in the 60s/70s, which I agree with, but then your thought process immediately disconnected the two when you asked why people over-consume: the same exact reasons.

add manipulative/psychological marketing techniques to your list as well.

People who rely on the government to tell them what is healthy and what is not healthy are idiots. A drink made in an Atlanta Lab is obviously not healthy.

I see the bill doesn’t cover artificial sweeteners.

If manufacturers start sneaking sweeteners in to avoid the label, this will probably do more harm than good.

A study analysing 36000 deaths and 3 million person-years (published by the American Heart Association) found a 21% increase in all cause mortality among those consuming 2 or more sugar sweetened beverages per day. Consuming 2 or more artificially sweetened beverages, on the other hand, was associated with only a 4% increase. And moderate consumtion of artificially sweetened beverages (< 2 per day) was actually, unlike sugar, associated with decreased mortality. [1]

[1] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA....

Maybe they need to be like Australian cigarettes. You could have a picture of someone who doesn't need the extra calories.

I am super anti sugar. I don't eat it except in fruit and I don't give it to my child.

I still don't want the government messing with nutrition. It's track record with that is just awful and there is no reason to think it's going to get better.

Politicians please do it as Hippocrates said: "First do no harm"

Before you ban, label or tax sugar you have to get your house in order: Stop distorting the food market with subsidies and stop giving people wrong information (Food pyramid etc).

They haven't used the food pyramid in nearly ten years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MyPlate

Harvard has an even better one: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-...

Also, the food pyramids and plates are from the USDA, the federal government. Not a state government like sugar warnings are coming from. So you're talking to two different organizations when you say "before you label sugar, fix the food pyramid".

I should cite from that Harvard link:

"Generations of Americans are accustomed to the food pyramid design, and it’s not going away. In fact, the Healthy Eating Pyramid and the Healthy Eating Plate complement each other."

I can't agree more with this. I'm in Chile right now, and they have put warning labels on all sorts of food here, saying things like high sugar, high fat, high sodium, and so on. Well, now it seems all food is unhealthy, so you might as well eat whatever you want. Yes, there is such thing as reductionism, losing sight of the forest for focusing on the trees. Sugar from fruits is not the same as refined sugar, despite them being the same molecule. The world is built out of interrelations not of platonic essences.

The problem is that most foods available in supermarkets are unhealthy.

It's funny how tech and food have so much in common. Wanna make a lot of money? Sell people absolute junk and tell them it is good for them. Once enough people have listened and you've got critical mass, wholesome healthy alternatives that are sustainable over the long term can be eliminated by implying they are "uncool" with clever brand placement.

I agree with that. But are cheese, butter, lard, and panela (dried sugarcane juice) unhealthy? Should you buy cheese that is unsalted but contains other less studied food preservatives or just eat less cheese?

> Politicians please do it as Hippocrates said: "First do no harm"

This is not tenable for politicians. Bodies are by default healthy, and have enormous powers of self-repair. A do-nothing bias works in favor of that.

Politicians, though, mostly resolve questions of competing interest. A do-nothing bias in politics means yielding to short-term thinking, special interests, and the desires of the powerful. Sugar's a great example, in that it's generally harmful but specifically very profitable, so left unchecked we'll get a suboptimal societal outcome while enriching people who unnecessarily put sugar in food.

The thing is that people that come to this sub is over-represented by wealthier individuals, or californians, that already don't drink a lot of sugar.

And it is tempting to put restrictions on others that don't affect you.

To the people that downvote sisu: how about a warning label, always visible, on every social-website, this included, that extended computer time is bad for your health?

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