The Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to limit the sugar content in soda and other sugary drinks. The group says current levels are harmful, leading to obesity, heart disease and other health problems.
"When you're faced with a diabetes epidemic a situation where two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, the government has a responsibility to do something about that," said Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the CSPI.
The standard 20-ounce bottle of soda has about 16 teaspoons of sugar in it. That's double the daily recommendation. Experts say the problem is it's easy to consume too much sugar when it's in a liquid.
"Ask them to eat 16 teaspoons of sugar-- it's almost impossible to do that. But you can gulp that down in a minute or two and then go back for another," said Dr. Walter Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health.
The beverage industry says it is doing its part, noting that calories per beverage have come down over the past 15 years.
Some consumers say the government shouldn't get involved.
"I grew up without my beverages being regulated. I turned out all right," said Monica Hughes of Ohio.
Others think something has to be done.
"Someone needs to help them in order to protect their health," said Bonnie Bruderer of New York.
People are actually drinking fewer sugary beverages than they did a decade ago, but health advocates say it's still four times what Americans drank in the 1950s.
The CSPI's petition is the latest push to target the soda industry. New York City, under Mayor Bloomberg, is about to put in place a ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other businesses. The FDA says it will review the CSPI petition.
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