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Maybe Paul Krugman is on to something

Notice that the American Beverage Association (ABA) attacked this proposal to help prevent kids from drinking soda. These guys have deep pockets and can buy votes in Congress. I think Krugman is a nut on most political stuff, but he is right on in terms of his assertion that corporate American interests and the health of the public are not aligned.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Soda drinks are "liquid candy" for children who often guzzle up to three pops a day, a US science group warned, demanding cigarette-style health warnings on cans.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest warned that while adults seemed to be turning to diet soda drinks, children more often drank regular sodas than previously.

"What was once a rare treat in a small serving is now served up morning, noon and night, virtually everywhere Americans happen to be," said Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director.

"How did a solution of high-fructose corn syrup, water and artificial flavors come to be the default beverage?" he said.

The group made the call in a petition filed with the US
Food and Drug Administration asking for a series of health notices on cans of drinks containing more than 13 grams (0.46 ounces) of refined sugars per 12 ounces (0.35 litres).

The demand earned an immediate riposte from the American Beverage Association (ABA) which represents the US soft drink industry.

"To ask the FDA for warning labels on soft drinks, or any food products that contain caloric sweeteners, patronizes consumers and lacks common sense," said ABA President and CEO Susan Neely.

"Soft drinks are a refreshing and enjoyable beverage to be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced approach to life.

"Individuals, not the government, are in the best position to make food and beverage choices that are right for them."

CSPI cited research based on government data showing that teenage boys who drink soft drinks consume an average of three 12 ounce cans per day, while girls drink more than two cans.

Teenagers who drink soft drinks get nearly 15 percent of their total calories from the drinks, the CSPI said.

Suggested messages included: "The US Government recommends that you drink less (non-diet) soda to help prevent weight gain, tooth decay and other health problems."

A second warning could read: "To help protect your waistline and your teeth, consider drinking diet sodas or water."

The CSPI on Wednesday issued an updated version of its 1998 report "Liquid Candy" which found that in 2004, soda companies produced 37 gallons (140 litres) of carbonated non diet soda, providing 60,000 empty calories for every man, woman and child in the United States.

The ABA said however that it was working hard to tackle what it said was America's "obesity challenge" arguing that it was offering an ever increasing range of products including low calorie soft drinks, caffeine-free products and bottled water, so people could find the right drink for them.

It pointed out that information on calories, sugar, caffeine, sodium and other contents was already contained on panels on the side of cans.

CSPI is a privately-funded organisation dedicated to informing the public and policymakers and to conducting research on food, alcohol, health and the environment, and to ensure science is used in the public good.

Wed. Jul 13, 2:55pm

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I'm convinced there are two major contributors to American obesity that often get overlooked:
1) soda -- completely empty calories, tons of sugar, yet not satisfying. Many people don't realize the enormous amounts of sugar in a can of soda! And of course kids love it. I definitely don't think soda (or Snapple) should be offered by schools!

2) dependence on cars/sprawl -- in most places in the US, you have to drive to get anywhere, and as a result, many Americans rarely walk unless they make a self-concious effort to. In European villages, by contrast, which were built before the era of the car, you'll see 80 year old ladies bicycling home with their groceries.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005, 3:35 PM

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While I mostly agree with the other chain where people said that less government is better than more, the sentence above from the ABA: "Individuals, not the government, are in the best position to make food and beverage choices that are right for them." is very telling. It's not adult individuals who are making this specific choice (according to the article, adults are drinking diet soda). It's KIDS who are making this choice, and kids are notorious for not making good choices.

In the ideal world, I'd think parents would step in and teach their kids about good choices, and the kids would listen and take it all to heart, etc. But this is not an ideal world. If the government needs to step in and help kids make better choices (by getting soda and other sweetened drinks out of schools, or by running a public service campaign that makes people more aware of how easy it is to drink empty calories, or something), then I think in this one case, more government might just be better.

No matter what way the ABA tries to spin it, their interests are selling more soda, not making people healthier.

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 7:53 AM

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What is the alternative, though? Selling children "diet" drinks filled with chemicals is definitely not a good idea! Fruit juice has as many, if not more, calories than soda. Milk is a good alternative, but what about children who are lactose-intolerant, or just don't like it? Water is an okay optioin, but it's so expensive when bottled, and I remember in my high school (which was very nice and in a very wealthy district), we did an experiment in chemistry where we took water from the drinking fountain and set it on fire b/c it had so much extra junk in it! Eww!

If you don't sell kids soda or snapple or juices, what should they drink?

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 8:42 AM

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I agree - bottled water is very expensive (and it's silly since you can just fill a bottle up in your sink or through the brita for "free").

Smaller bottles might be a good answer (many containers of juice or snapple or iced tea are 2 or 2.5 servings!), or subsidized water, or unsweetened herbal tea (fruit ingredients make it taste as sweet as necessary). Or maybe a hydration program at a school, where there are classes about why you need water, and how much water you should be drinking, and why soda doesn't count/is bad for you, and everyone gets a water bottle at the end. It's a hugely complicated problem, and it's not going to be solved just by taking soda and snapple out of school vending machines.

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 9:12 AM

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I could not disagree more. Taking soda and snapple out of schools and providing clean filtered water would do wonders. Removing the availability of soda will help kids lose weight. The schools should provide this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 9:51 AM

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they didn't sell us soda when I was a kid

The soda machine was in the teacher's lounge. We had no access to vending machines at all. You drank water from the water fountain. In the cafeteria you had access to various kinds of milk and juice. We were actually prohibited from bringing soda or candy to school. I don't see anything wrong with this.

I'd rather see 100% juice sold because at least it has some nutrition, but don't even think it's necessary. Just sell them water. They'll live.

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 11:09 AM

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soda for kids? ridiculous!

When I was a kid (not THAT long ago), soda was a special treat to be enjoyed on special occasions (like birthdays and holidays). Drinking soda on a regular basis would have been like eating birthday cake EVERY day.
Now I have kids of my own, and though they are very young, I am starting them on a healthy pathway - milk and water ONLY to drink - and occasionally, juice.
And I don't think soda is the only problem facing these kids. Honestly, when I see an overweight child, my first thought is, "Irresponsible parents!" Kids don't buy groceries - their parents do. Kids don't make dinner - their parents do!
Just because your kids asks for candy doesn't mean you should give it to them.

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 2:15 PM

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not only did I not have Soda, I was forbidden to eat sugary cereals. We had Cheerios, Corn Flakes and that kind of stuff. My wife grew up the same way.

That said, I will admit to feeding my young son french fries every now and then-- guaranteed that he will eat them. Boy its great to have anonymous posting on PEERtrainer, because no way would I admit to feeding my kid fries in public. LOL!

Thursday, July 14, 2005, 2:25 PM

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Soda in schools . . .

Why not make drinking water cool - I like the idea of classes or lectures teaching kids the importance of consuming water. Why not provide a Nalgene bottle at the end of each lecture or class and kids can accesorize their bottles. It seemed ot work in college and it definitely works in my office.

Soda is the devil.

Friday, July 15, 2005, 10:13 AM

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The thing is... soda, like cigarettes and candy isnt gonna disappear. I grew up in a very healthy household...soda was only for holiday parties or special occasions and if there was left over when the party was over my mom would pour it down the drain! We didnt have access to soda in school and it was seen as a treat. But when I turned about 12 and was able to go to the deli on my own or to the pizza place with my friends...MAN DID WE INDULGE! i gained 35 pounds that year alone because I was rebelling and doing what I was never allowed to do as a child...because I didnt understand and had never been taught why soda should be avoided. Its a difficult subject. I've thought about it alot because I had so much anger towards my parents for not educating me about weight control and calorie intake etc...but then again if we bombard children with all this info at such a young age we have to make sure we do it correctly. Warnings on the side of cans is practically like saying " watch out because no one wants to be fat!!"....we need to take more time to discuss the health risks with kids in a way that they will really process correctly.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006, 7:01 PM

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Soda or Alcohol???

How many of you who hate soda drink alcohol?? I just find it interesting that many people won't touch a Coke, but go out for drinks every Friday night with their friends. If I had a the choice, I would much rather my kids grow up to drink soda rather than alcohol.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006, 10:34 PM

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I completly agree at being shocked for people who avoid coke but are fine with booze!! I'm fairly young (early 20's) we were not allowed to have pop, and my parents introduced alcohol in a way that none of my siblings are interested in it. To this day I don't drink alcohol and I have about a can of pop per YEAR.

Sure a kid will get fat on a lot of pop... but it is way better then drinking which is more cals, harmful for the liver, could drink and drive. and so on!

Thursday, April 06, 2006, 9:26 AM

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i think with the right marketing-odd shaped bottles, or bottles that can connect together, labels with superheroes or movie stars on them, maybe little games on the labels-any gimmick is worth a try-that children will adjust to water in school vending machines. there could be a small fruit-flavor pack with real fruit concentrate that they could add to the water to make it flavored and colored. with a little imagination, the rewards are ten-fold. who cares if the children want soda? it's a good lesson that you can't always get what you want, and sometimes what you want isn't the best choice. if they are given only water in schools, when they ARE allowed to have a soda, a little will go a lot farther...

Thursday, April 06, 2006, 9:46 AM

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what are they doing in schools these days that requires more than the water fountain to rehydrate our students?

Friday, April 07, 2006, 1:45 PM

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The water fountains are often broken. At least they were at my highschool 10 years ago. And if they worked, they would come out at a drizzle with warm watter. Eew, who wants to put their mouths close to the fountain. I don't know why they can't fix them. It is probably much cheaper (and healthier) than putting in vending machines!

Friday, April 07, 2006, 5:01 PM

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end result is - soda and everything else sold from school vending machines = $$$$. the almighty dollar will override the health of our children. ( sad but true) . i am a reformed pop drinker 5 years clean.

Friday, April 07, 2006, 5:34 PM

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