The groups include the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Prevention Institute, the Trust for America's Health and Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The effort was organized by The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.
"Soda and other sugary drinks are the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity, a major contributor to coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and a cause of psychosocial problems," the groups wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Yet, each year, the average American drinks about 40 gallons of sugary drinks, all with little, if any, nutritional benefit."
Each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60 percent increased risk of overweight in children, one study found, while another study found even children ages 2 and 3 consume sugary drinks every day, the groups said.
"Previous reports and calls to action from the surgeon general, on tobacco, underage drinking and obesity, have helped galvanize policymakers at all levels of government," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.