Cola Giants Admit to Contributing to Obesity

cola_with_iceCoca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group have pledged to reduce calories that Americans consumed from their products by 20 percent by 2025. The commitment was announced at the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York. It was a step in the right direction – the drink companies are actually admitting that their products cause obesity.

The bad news is that these same companies will be expanding in the East and South America with India as a top priority.

Soft drinks are available in extra large bottles now – 2 litres. There are constant deals going on in supermarkets such as “Buy 2 and Get 1 Free.” These soft drink companies are reducing their prices to drive consumption. Soft drink giants have deep pockets and have hundreds of crores of marketing budgets that are being spent on all forms of media, sponsorships, events and Bollywood stars.

While admitting that their products are attributing to obesity and bringing down consumption in the US, they continue to push in other markets.

Eminent nutritionist and Public Health Expert, Marion Nestle criticizes the pledge saying that American public have already reduced their soda drinking:

“Once again, soda companies are making promises that are likely to be fulfilled anyway, whether the companies take any action or not.

Americans have gotten the word. Sodas in anything but small amounts are not good for health.

Although Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association have funded studies that invariably find sodas innocent of health effects, the vast preponderance of research sponsored by the government or foundations clearly demonstrates otherwise.

Think of sodas as candy in liquid form. They contain astonishing amounts of sugars. A 12-ounce soda contains 10 (!) teaspoons of sugar and provides about 150 calories.

It should surprise no one that adults and children who habitually consume sugary drinks are far more likely to take in fewer nutrients, to weigh more, and to exhibit metabolic abnormalities compared to those who abstain or drink only small amounts.

And, contrary to expectation, diet sodas don’t seem to help. A widely publicized recent study suggests that artificially sweetened drinks affect intestinal bacteria in ways, as yet undetermined, that lead to metabolic abnormalities–glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. This research is largely animal-based, preliminary, and requires confirmation. But one thing about diet drinks is clear: they do not do much good in preventing obesity.

People who drink diet sodas tend to be more obese than those who do not. The use of artificial sweeteners in the United States has gone up precisely in parallel with the rise in prevalence of obesity. Is this a cause or an effect? We don’t know yet. While scientists are trying to sort all this out, large segments of the public have gotten the message: stay away from sodas of any kind.

Since the late 1990s, U.S. per capita consumption of soft drinks has dropped by about 20 percent. If current trends continue, the soda industry should have no trouble meeting its promise of another 20 percent reduction by 2025.

If the soda industry really wants to help prevent obesity, it needs to change its current practices. It should stop fighting tax and size initiatives, stop opposing warning labels on sugary drinks, stop lobbying against restrictions on sodas in schools, stop using sports and music celebrities to sell products to children, stop targeting marketing to African-American and Hispanic young people, and stop funding research studies designed to give sodas a clean bill of health.”

Marion Nestle’s excerpt was taken from her blog, www.foodpolitics.com

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