by Marion Nestle
Jun 22 2008

Soft drink research: the drink industry fights back

The soft drink industry is using the latest research findings to argue that vending machines in schools are not the problem in childhood obesity, and it’s what kids drink at home that matters. The research in question finds that adolescents get 10% to 15% of their calories from sugary beverages. Average intake among 2 to 5 year olds is 176 calories per day; among 12 to 19 year olds it is 356. Overall average intake rose from 240 calories/day in 1988 to 270 in 2004. Doesn’t what kids drink in school influence what they drink at home, and vice versa? Never mind. Try this one: a new meta-analysis – coincidentally (?) sponsored by the American Beverage Association–finds no relationship between consumption of sweetened beverages and body mass index. High marks to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for printing a rather tough sponsorship note: “The research proposal to the sponsor was approved as submitted, but the sponsor requested that an independent expert on meta-analysis—to be chosen by the authors—review the manuscript…One author (MLS) accepted a position with the sponsor after the first decision letter regarding the manuscript was received.” Could this cozy relationship have anything to do with the way the study was designed and conducted? Just asking.