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).