The Beverage Industry Claims It’s Gonna Help

Do you want these guys to choose what your kids will drink?

I applaud First Lady Michelle Obama on her efforts to fight childhood obesity.  Honestly, if she can make a difference, that might be the best legacy of the Obama administration, giving our kids a chance at lives healthier than our own.

The food industry is starting to react towards the positive.  Coca-Cola, Pepsi & Dr Pepper, through their lobbying group AmeriBev, have begun running ads saying they are reducing, immediately, the number of calories in school soft drink vending machines by 88%.  The companies have not gone into details, but the ads state that the machines will be stocked more with water, diet drinks, smaller portions, and sports drinks.

The three soft drink giants have also agreed to start more prominent labeling of “company controlled” machines (those they own directly and not managed by outside suppliers) including putting the calorie count on the selection button you push to deliver your drink.

This is a first step, but by no means should you be throwing your hands up and shouting, “Hallelujah!” I still have some issues:

1.  Sports drinks frequently have as much sugar as a regular soda, which contains about 9 1/2 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce can.  Both regular soda and sports drinks are frequently sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is often maligned by the health industry as a contributing factor in childhood obesity, among a host of other medical issues.

2.  The companies are lobbying to have a “total liquid consumption” amount added to the new USDA guidelines coming out later this year.  To me, this sounds like nothing more than an attempt to “officially” encourage people to drink fluids when they’ve never been encouraged before.  As far as I can tell, I don’t think Americans are dying of dehydration because they failed to consume their recommended daily consumption of “fluids.”

3.  Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper are continuing to stock fruit juices in vending machines and, in fact, it appears they’ll begin highlighting them.  Fruit juices are better, but only in moderation; if a child swaps out soda for fruit juice they likely won’t be saving that many calories.  Fruit juices have also been associated with an increase in dental problems for children.

4.  While the companies are changing serving sizes and calorie counts to reflect 12-ounce servings, for fruit juices these will remain at 8 ounces.  This means if consumers are just looking for the number of calories, but portion sizes aren’t equal (both 12 ounces), then your kid could likely think they’re consuming less calories than they actually are.

The move to healthier eating, and drinking, is starting to work, but we need to keep up the pressure and force real changes.  Let’s see a ban on HFCS in schools.  Or how about banning artificial sweeteners?  or heck, how about going into the cafeterias and stop labeling french fries as a “vegetable.”

What do you think?

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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3 Responses to The Beverage Industry Claims It’s Gonna Help

  1. Leah @Bookieboo March 17, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    This is called lying with statistics and treating people like they are stupid. I call shenanigans!

  2. Susan S March 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    It’s all such a scam. Water in bottles is bad for environment. Stuff in soda is deadly! Sugar free reduced calorie stuff is as evil as full blown soda maybe even more so.

    When will we ever learn, oh when we will ever learn….

  3. Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader March 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    At least they’re trying to help in a small token kinda way. It would be naive of us to think they’ll just one day say “Yanno our products are bad for people and our packaging is bad for the environment, so maybe we’ll just go out of business because it’s unethical for us to continue”.

    Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue if every product that’s not entirely good for us, or is not entirely good for the environment ceased to be produced? Millions of people would be out of work, and millions of people would have to learn how to grow their own food etc… All we can really do is think for ourselves, make our own choices and educate our friends and family. I know it’s not the perfect answer, but until we start boycotting this stuff these companies will continue to stay in business.

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