In War Against Soft Drinks, Facts Are Hard For Critics To Swallow

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  • 07/09/2012

Did you know that a recent study found " that most children and youth who consume soft drinks and other sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch and lemonade, are not at any higher risk for obesity than their peers who drink healthy beverages."

Or that a long term study tracking low income children (The Bogalusa Heart Study) that started in 1973 found a "positive association between diet beverage consumption and overweight resulted from the consumption of diet beverages and non-sweetened beverages. "   

Probably not.   Like me, you were too busy fixating on the proposed ban on soft drink servings over 16 oz in NYC.  

The Bogalusa Heart Study team also concluded  "eating patterns were associated with overweight in young adults. However, the eating patterns explained only 1–2% of the variance in BMI. Thus, 97% of the variance is unexplained. More studies are needed to better understand how eating patterns in combination are associated with overweight before policy changes are made. Targeting single eating patterns in obesity intervention programs may not be the best approach. This is possibly reflected in the modest-to no-effect being observed with this approachIn this study, eating patterns were associated with overweight in young adults. "

So why are lobbying organizations and interest groups and the CDC and NYC attacking soft drinks if it is -- at best -- only a sliver of that 1-2 percent explaining BMI variance?   

In part it's because attacking the eating habits of the poor -- especially the rural and minority poor -- is fair game.   But the more important reason is the belief that obesity is the underlying cause of every chronic disease and the cost of health care.   So under the guise of controlling health care costs it is now becoming legitimate to have governments tell people what to eat and drink.    You would  never know that around the world, people are living longer and healthier lives, a trend that has boosted income and prosperity over the last half century.   

Worse, a campaign is under way to claim that sugar -- or drinking soda -- is as deadly to humans as tobacco is.    That's not science.  That's the sort of fear mongering that has made people afraid of vaccinating their kids.   

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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