Warnings about diabetes and obesity could start popping up on soda cans, if a petition sent to the FDA this week gains any traction.

The Philadelphia Department of Health, along with numerous other organizations around the country, signed the letter urging the government to require health warnings on beverages with large amounts of sugar or other caloric sweeteners.

The organization spearheading the effort is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Julie Greenstein with the group said it's by no means a cure for obesity, but it's a start.

“What these warnings would do is give some valuable information to consumers so that they can make decisions on their own,” she said. “If they find out that there's 17 teaspoons of sugar in soda they might think, 'You know what, maybe I should drink water instead.' ”

In 2005, the nutrition advocacy group could not persuade the FDA to endorse the labels.  Greenstein said she hopes for better luck with the Obama administration.

Mark Schutta of the Rodebaugh Diabetes Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania said he sees too many patients whose health problems stem from excessive soda consumption.

“How's it going to hurt the overall health of the American population? The bottom line is, it's not. The only thing it can potentially hurt is the consumption of these drinks and the profit margin for soda manufacturers,” he said. “This is just not something in the quantities that people are consuming these drinks, it's just not something that's good for anyone's health.”

Schutta said kids as young as 1 are drinking up to seven ounces of soda a day.