(HealthDay News) – Consumer advocates and nutrition experts, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), are petitioning the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to determine what levels of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners in sodas and soft drinks are indeed safe.

Researchers from CSPI noted in a press release that, while the American Heart Association recommends men consume no more than nine teaspoons and women no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, a single 20-ounce bottle of soda contains roughly 16 teaspoons of high-fructose corn syrup-derived sugar. Their petition stated that such added calories now make up more than one-third of the daily caloric intake of about 14 million Americans.

CSPI is asking the FDA to (1) determine first what level of sweeteners in drinks is safe; (2) set targets for sugar content in other sweet foods; and (3) educate consumers on healthy food and beverage choices.

“As currently formulated, Coke, Pepsi, and other sugar-based drinks are unsafe for regular human consumption. Like a slow-acting but ruthlessly efficient bioweapon, sugar drinks cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, CSPI executive director, said in a statement. “The FDA should require the beverage industry to re-engineer their sugary products over several years, making them safer for people to consume, and less conducive to disease.”

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