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UPDATE 1-Appeals court blocks San Francisco's ordinance for soda health warnings

warnings@ (Adds attempt to reach city attorney, background)

Sept 19 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday sided with the beverage industry, granting a preliminary injunction to block a San Francisco ordinance mandating health warnings for soda.

A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs, including the American Beverage Association and the California Retailers Association, were likely to succeed with their claim that the ordinance was unjustified and violated commercial speech under the First Amendment.

The panel said the lower court was wrong in denying the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, granting the injunction and sending it back to the lower court.

A spokesman for San Francisco's city attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

A U.S. District Court judge had previously denied the request for the injunction but had put the ordinance on hold pending the result of the appeal.

San Francisco passed an ordinance in June 2015 requiring advertisers within the city to include a warning statement that said drinking high-sugar beverages contributed to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

The ordinance is part of a growing national movement seeking to curb consumption of soft drinks and other high-calorie beverages that medical experts say are largely to blame for an epidemic of childhood obesity. Many localities also have moved to tax sugary beverages.

A growing body of research has identified sugary drinks as the biggest contributors to added, empty calories in the American diet, and as a major culprit in a range of costly health problems associated with being overweight.

The California State Outdoor Advertising Association is also among the plaintiffs. (Reporting by Dan Levine and Ben Klayman, editing by Marcy Nicholson)