Health & Wellness

Nutritionally Speaking: Ten things the soft drink industry won’t tell you

A Wall Street Journal article a while ago shared some hard truths about soft drinks:
1 – ‘The Hottest new beverage is water.’
People are going back to the basics, they are still thirsty, but they are purchasing more bottled water. Studies show that while water sales are soaring, (up 56 percent since 2001), the sales of traditional ‘fizzy” drinks are on the decline. According to a spokesman for the beverage industry, there has been a recent trend towards ‘retreating’ numbers of bottled water purchases with a shift towards increased sales of low and no calorie beverages.
2 – ‘Coke made Santa fat.’
The modern image of Santa Claus is often credited to the Coca Cola . His rosy smile and great girth has been on the scene since the 1930s. Santa’s European counterpart is shown as thinner and most likely would fit through the chimney. The ever-growing consumption of sugary soft drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A 2012 report by the Mintel market research organization reported, ”Soda continues to be blamed for obesity.” According to another 2012 report, this time from the Institute of Medicine, ” some 26 percent of defined themselves as obese in 2011.” Of course the soda industry disagrees and suggest that sugary sodas are not the problem, and ” None of the studies say that drinking a soft drink will make you obese.” Most soda drinkers drink more that ”a soft drink”, and each of those 32 ounce ”Big Gulps” from our local vendors has around 27 teaspoons of sugar or even worse highly processed HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). Here is an experiment for you: put 27 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl, visualized gulping that down! Should we be selling this big cup of sugar to our kids and other community members for 50 cents?
3 – ”Diet Drinks are not Health Foods.”
Diet sodas may also not be good for you. A recent French study linked the consumption of diet soda to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. This used to be called ”adult onset diabetes”, but with the sharp rise of this diabetes in younger folks, (even children); the name was changed to Type 2 diabetes. The French study found that ”women who drink ”light” beverages tend to consume greater quantities than those who drink normal sugary drinks.” Sugar consumption is an addiction, just like tobacco or alcohol, so of course this makes sense that if you switch to a lower sugar drink, you would drink more to get that sugar ”fix”.
4 – ‘We are also addicted to caffeine.’
The proverbial ”new kid on the block”, energy drinks are stealing market share from the other sweet soft drinks. According to the market research group, Packaging Facts, energy drink consumption will grow from $12.5 billion in 2012 to $21.5 billion by 2017. Beware, some drinks are marketed as dietary supplements and can include even more stimulants. Have you ever heard of someone having a ”caffeine deficiency”? Me neither! Do you really want your kids to get hooked on these drinks?
5 – ‘You could wind up in the ER.’
These high-octane drinks are sending people to the hospital with racing heartbeat, seizures, and headaches according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. The American Beverage association’s answer to this report is clear. They suggest that the energy drinks are not the problem, but suggest that 42 percent of these ER patients are also taking prescription medications, alcohol and illegal drugs.
6 – ‘The FDA is investigating our drinks.’
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether or not, ”energy drinks pose serious – even fatal – health risks for some young people.” While caffeine has a history of safe use, the FDA is looking into caffeine use in these unnaturally spiked beverages.
7 –’We like big cups and we cannot lie.’
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to limit sales by most vendors of larger servings than 16 ounces of sugary soft drinks was scuttled by an edict from a NY State Supreme Court justice. The experts say that even if Bloomberg’s appeal of this ruling is successful, the retailers would find ways around the rule in a ”New York minute.”
8 – ‘Our deep pockets will veto a soda tax.’
When ever there is talk of imposing federal taxes on soft drinks (to fund diabetes education) the proponents have come up against the powerful deep pocket lobbying of the soft drink industry against this cause. According to Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the soft drink industry spent $40 million in 2009 alone to fight soda tax proposals that were not backed by this financial clout.
9 – ‘Our philanthropic efforts could quiet critics.’
According to a report by the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, ”soda companies donate to charitable causes that might otherwise be highly critical of the industry.” They reported that the soft drink industry donated to two anti-hunger groups, the Food Research and Action Center, and Feeding America along with other groups. Both organizations suggested that their missions are not compromised by accepting funding from these sources.
10 – ‘including doctors and dentists.’
In another study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest it was reported reported that groups representing doctors, dentists and even registered dietitians have also accepted funding from the soft drink industry. This is tantamount to the hens financially supporting the foxes escapades.
Water anyone?



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