Monday, September 24, 2012

The Most Painfully Stupid Thing I've Read in a While

It was written by the American Beverage Association in response to the barrage of articles condemning sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) the New England Journal of Medicine published this past Friday. The articles beat the dead horse that sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to rising weights.

It's a dead horse because as the American Beverage Association themselves report,
"Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute about 7 percent of the calories in the average American’s diet."
And guess what? 7% is a lot!  If you lose 7% of your total daily calories you're probably going to either lose weight or gain more slowly.

Of course even that's disingenuous as what the ABA doesn't report is that the percentage of sugar-sweetened calories is dramatically higher in teens (as much as 25% of calories coming from sugar sweetened beverages), and moreover, looking at all comers, ignores the fact that there are many folks who don't drink any sugar-sweetened beverages at all meaning that for the actual drinkers, the percentage and/or number of SSB calories they're consuming are likely much, much, higher.

What other arguments are trotted out by the ABA to defend the regular consumption of sugar water?

1. All calories count
2. You can balance calories in with calories out
3. Consumption of soda is going down, yet obesity rates are going up
4. There are people who struggle with weight who don't drink SSBs
5. SSB manufacturers also make non-SSBs
6. We don't advertise SSBs to kids
7. We're part of the solution because we've worked with Bill Clinton and Michele Obama

My responses?

1. And?
2. Sure, just balance those calories you consumed in all of 3 minutes each day by adding 3.5-7 HOURS of exercise a week.  Easy peasy.
3. And?
4. So?
5. And?
6. LOL!
7. Sigh.

Really?  These are the best arguments the beverage industry's got?  If that's the case, I'd say we're getting somewhere!

Here's hoping that America's current Surgeon General Regina Benjamin takes this opportunity to grab a page out of C. Everett Koop's shoes and actually take a useful stand on a product that's undermining global health.

If for some mind bogglingly bizarre reason you're still on the fence on SSBs and their contribution to weight, why not have a read of the editorial published in NEJM and perhaps the articles themselves (they're free).

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  1. Great responses! They really are grasping at straws at this point, and looking more and more ridiculous the more they peddle the same (bogus) excuses for their products.

  2. dearieme7:19 am

    My wife picked up a new brand of yoghurt at the supermarket last week. It proved to be horribly sweet. On inspection it was "made in the USA": I suppose we'll stick to British or French or Greek in future.

    At the bottom of the pot, moreover, there was a layer of sour, unripe peach.

    Who would eat such stuff? Why does the manufacturer hope he can sell it in Europe?

  3. I am just glad there are no calories in the alcoholic beverages I drink, according to their nutrition labels that do not exist.

  4. "3. Consumption of soda is going down, yet obesity rates are going up"

    Is this code for changing their focus from soda to sports drinks, sweetened iced teas, etc.? If so, I don't think fizziness is a meaningful distinction.

  5. Anonymous12:16 pm

    The ABA is my favorite laughable corporate advocacy group. Their arguments could be picked apart by a Grade 11 English class.

  6. What's the matter with them? If the American Beverage Association is really concerned about the weight of the people, then they should ban all sweetened products. lol

  7. Its Cheetos and other refined snacks, in my opinion, that are making kids fat. I'm an elementary school teacher. Kids don't drink soda or juice at all during the school day, instead they have water and milk. But they eat Cheetos, Takis, Austin crackers, & Baked Lays all day long. In the cool months, kids hide bags of snacks in their jackets and eat them all throughout the day unless caught. I'm not talking about snack size packages, but full. One student at the middle school our kids will attend had to have emergency surgery to remove a solid mass of hot Cheetos blocking her intestine. On lunch duty, I see the worst part is that most kids throw all the healthy fruit and carrot sticks in the trash, and then they line up to spend $1 on a bag of chips. Oh, and 80% are on free and money totally wasted. GET THE CHIPS OUT OF SCHOOLS!!