The Checkup: Should the Surgeon General Weigh In on Sugary Drinks?

Health groups are calling on the Surgeon General to issue a report on the health effects of sugary drinks.

• A coalition of health groups—including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association—is calling on Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to issue a report on sugar-sweetened beverages and their health effects on Americans. The report would serve as a “science-based reference on the health consequences of drinking these beverages,” reports Food Safety News. The group also hopes it would spur policy and other actions directed at curbing our soda addiction. Interestingly, the precedent for this is 1964’s Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, which helped drive home the dangers of smoking and resulted in new smoking policies and warnings. Of course, the beverage industry is having none of it, saying that drawing a line between smoking and sugar-sweetened drinks is beyond absurd. “There is simply no comparison between soda and tobacco—not among our products, nor our business practices,” said ABA in a statement last month. “Tobacco in and of itself is harmful—in any amount; our beverages are not. They can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle.”

• Today’s health tip: Don’t fall asleep in front of the TV. Researchers have linked it to a higher risk for depression.

• McDonald’s has debuted a “Favorites Under 400 Calories” menu just in time for the London Olympics, where people are upset that the fast-food chain is a sponsor of the athletic event. But is it enough to repair McDonald’s image? The menu lists items like the angus snack wrap, three-piece chicken selects, and the Filet ‘O Fish sandwich as under 400 calories.