Grape Soda

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network has sent a letter to the Surgeon General urging the USDA to investigate the connection between sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas and America’s growing rates of cancer.

Claiming that an unbiased report could profoundly alter American’s food and beverage choices much like the Surgeon General’s warnings about tobacco in 1964, the organization wrote to USDA human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, stating that significant scientific evidence suggests a strong correlation between cancer fatalities and diet exists.

More than half a million Americans die from cancers annually according to the American Cancer Society, and the ACS CAN states that one in three cancer fatalities is directly related to diet choices and exercise habits. More than one-third of adult Americans are clinically obese and 1 in 5 children between the ages of 2 and 19 is also obese. “Large portion sizes, calorie-dense foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages are extensively marketed by restaurants, supermarkets, and food and beverage companies,” the organization wrote.

Soft drinks have been a recent target in the fight against obesity as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban last month restricting the sale of large size sodas and sweetened beverages above 16 ounces. Inciting controversy among New Yorkers and across the nation, as well as outrage from beverage manufacturers, the proposal has ignited a charged dialogue about whether Bloomberg has overstepped his role. But nutrition and health experts say the facts don’t lie: obesity and diet-related illnesses are almost always preventable—and reversible—which could not only improve the lives of those afflicted individuals, but, as those illnesses account for 20 percent of the nation’s health care costs, addressing the obesity epidemic could greatly improve our nation’s finances.

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Image: Pink Sherbet Photography