Staying hydrated is important to staying in balance, and bottled water provides people with a convenient and popular choice. By supporting this new initiative, our industry is once again leading with meaningful ways to achieve a balanced lifestyle.”
Hydrated? Not an issue for most people (exceptions—elite athletes, people at high altitude, the elderly).
Bottled water? In places with decent municipal water supplies, tap water is a much better choice; it’s inexpensive, non-polluting, and generates political support for preserving the quality of municipal water supplies. See, for example, what Food and Water Watch has to say about bottled water.
Another reporter: “Why aren’t we talking about obesity?”
Another reporter: Are we talking about replacing sugary drinks and sodas with water?”
Lawrence Soler, president and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America, fielded that one. “It’s less a public health campaign than a campaign to encourage drinking more water. To that end, we’re being completely positive. Only encouraging people to drink water; not being negative about other drinks. “
I consider Let’s Move! to be a public health campaign, and a very important one.
I know we’re just trying to “keep things positive,” but missing the opportunity to use this campaign’s massive platform to clearly talk down soda or do something otherwise more productive is lamentable. Public health campaigns of this magnitude don’t come around every day…Keeping things positive and making an important point are not mutually exclusive, you fools.
Let’s Move! staff have stated repeatedly that they must and will work with the food industry to make progress on childhood obesity. I’m guessing this is the best they can do. Messages to “drink less soda” (or even “drink tap water”) will not go over well with Coke, Pepsi, and the ABA; sales of sugary sodas are already declining in this country.
I’m thinking that the White House must have cut a deal with the soda industry along the lines of “we won’t say one word about soda if you will help us promote water, which you bottle under lots of brands.” A win-win.
Isn’t drinking water better than drinking soda? Of course it is.
But this campaign could have clarified the issues a bit better. Jeff Cronin, communications director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest circulated a poster created by Rudy Ruiz (of the communications firm Interlex) for a public health campaign in San Antonio:
Public health partnerships with food and beverage companies—especially soda companies—are fraught with peril. Let’s hope this one conveys the unstated message like the one in San Antonio: My balance is less soda and more tap water.
The NY State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, has turned down the Bloomberg administration’s appeal (New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce v New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene).
Like Supreme Court, we conclude that in promulgating this regulation the Board of Health failed to act within the bounds of its lawfully delegated authority. Accordingly, we declare the regulation to be invalid, as violative of the principle of separation of powers.
…we find particularly probative the regulation’s exemptions, which evince a compromise of social and economic concerns, as well as private interests. As indicated, the regulatory scheme is not an all encompassing regulation. It does not apply to all FSEs [food service establishments]. Nor does it apply to all sugary beverages. The Board of Health’s explanations for these exemptions do not convince us that the limitations are based solely on health-related concerns (pages 17, 18 of the decision).
OK. So the city should have made the rule apply to all food service places and all sugary beverages. Live and learn.
Since New York City’s ground-breaking limit on the portion size of sugary beverages was prevented from going into effect on March 12th, more than 2,000 New Yorkers have died from the effects of diabetes. Also during that time, the American Medical Association determined that obesity is a disease and the New England Journal of Medicine released a study showing the deadly, and irreversible, health impacts of obesity and Type 2 diabetes – both of which are disproportionately linked to sugary drink consumption. Today’s decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic.”
We are pleased that the lower court’s decision was upheld. With this ruling behind us, we look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City.
Even if the city loses the final appeal, the 16-ounce soda cap is the writing on the wall for soda companies.
Sales of full-sugar sodas have been falling for years and getting worse for both Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Cutting down on the portion sizes of sugary drinks is still a really good idea.
I attended the brief appeals hearing yesterday at which lawyers for the New York City Department of Health (DOH) and the American Beverage Association (ABA) presented final arguments for and against the DOH 16-ounce soda cap initiative (for recap, see previous post).
The judges challenged the DOH lawyer on jurisdiction, judicial precedents, scientific basis, efficacy, rationality, and triviality. One said “Do you need a PhD in public health to know that sugary drinks aren’t good for you?”
Another kept referring to the initiative as a ban: “It would mean sodas cannot be sold…”
The big issues raised by ABA:
Does DOH have jurisdiction?
Is the cap rational?
Does the soda cap adequately balance public health, personal liberty, and economic factors (i.e., beverage companies’ “rights” to sell as much sugar water as they can get away with)?
Reporters from the Associated Press and the New York Times must have been there too. Both noted that the judges were much tougher on the DOH attorney than on the one from the ABA. The DOH attorney seemed to have trouble responding to questions about precedents. Did she not read the DOH’s impressive “plenty of precedent” piece?
Obesity—and its type 2 diabetes consequences—are problems requiring action. I’d like to see the soda cap tried.
But despite Commissioner Farley’s optimistic statements to reporters, this hearing didn’t make the possibility sound hopeful.
And here’s CDC’s reminder of what this is all about:
A reader writes that she rode by this ad on her way to work yesterday. It’s on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront walking-and-bike path.
It’s for a Big Gulp 32-ounce drink, and a bargain at 69 cents.
The Chicago Park District explains that it:
partnered with Chicago-based AdTraction Media to develop a temporary outdoor advertising solution that adheres to concrete areas and will be displayed April through October. The additional revenue from this agreement will help the Chicago Park District enhance the programs, projects and events offered to Chicagoans and visitors.
Did nobody in the Park District consider the irony?
Better get moving! It takes at least 4 miles of running and 8 to 10 of biking to work off the 400 calories in that 32-ounce soda.
FoodNavigator.com reports two new studies on artificial sweeteners.
The first report says that artificially sweetened sodas do not lead to increased sugar or calorie consumption.
Our study study does not provide evidence to suggest that a short-term consumption of DBs [diet beverages], compared with water, increases preferences for sweet foods and beverages.
If this result proves repeatable, it leaves open the question of why the prevalence of obesity has gone up in parallel with increasing consumption of diet sodas (which it has).
So how come diet sodas don’t seem to help people maintain weight, on average? We still don’t know.
The second report is about a study that links diet sodas to type 2 diabetes. In a study following 66,000 women for 14 years, it found bothsugar-sweetened beverage consumption and artificially sweetened beverage consumption to be associated with increased type-2 diabetes risk.
How come? We still don’t know.
One thing seems pretty clear from such studies: diet drinks don’t appear to do much good for most people and aren’t any better for health than regular sodas.
A reader sent me an e-mail received from Coca-Cola:
As you know, obesity is an issue that affects all of us. At Coca-Cola, we believe we can help solve it by working together. As you heard back in January, we are committed to doing our part – by offering more low- and no-calorie choices, more portion controlled packages, and useful calorie information in more places than ever before.
As part of our ongoing commitment to provide more information about calories, we want to share a new “Calorie Balance” infographic that we created. This is posted on our Company website here.
Our infographic is a simple, easy tool that informs people about where Americans’ calories are coming from and what we can all do to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
It communicates government data and third-party published studies in a compelling way, showing that too many calories consumed as compared to those expended can lead to weight gain.
OK. I can’t resist. Here’ just one piece of Coke’s infographic:
Guess what #4 is. And what food is responsible for more than one-third of calories from sugars in U.S. diets?
The infographic gives no guidance about food choices or amounts best for health, but it is quite specific about physical activity. Do lots!
Overall, I read the infographic as saying “Hey, it’s not our sugar-water that’s making you put on weight. It’s up to you to choose what you drink and work it off with physical activity.”
Getting active is always good advice, but doesn’t Coke’s phenomenally comprehensive and astronomically expensive marketing offensive have anything to do with food choices? Coke must think all that is irrelevant.
I think it’s quite relevant. And so does the research.
This is one of a series on Food Policy for Breakfast, moderated by Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health, CUNY School of Public Health and Hunter College, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College. My seminar, on Soda Politics, will be at the CUNY School of Public Health, 7th Floor Auditorium, 55 West 125th Street, from9:00 am – 10:30 am but arrive earlier for open networking. For more information, see the Food Policy Center website.