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Monday, November 12, 2012

The battle might be lost, but the war will be won

We began addressing California's out-of-control obesity epidemic about 10 years ago. In partnership with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and a cadre of other passionate clients, we successfully  removed soda and junk food from California public schools. We helped pass restaurant menu labeling laws and healthy vending policies.

The next target in the anti-obesity campaign was shining a spotlight on the hefty dose of added sugar in sodas, sweetened teas, and sports, energy, and fruit-flavored drinks. The calories in these sugar-laden drinks are the biggest culprit in the obesity epidemic. Our clients launched educational Rethink Your Drink campaigns throughout California to let people know exactly how much sugar is contained in their favorite beverages and offer healthier alternatives. 

Two soda tax measures were placed on ballots in the California cities of El Monte and Richmond as a strategy to discourage consumption. As we now know, both measures were defeated. The election results weren't a shock considering that the American Beverage Industry outspent the health advocates by $3.5 million compared to a mere $50,000 in Richmond and roughly $57,000 in El Monte. 

I contend that the war will be eventually won no matter how much money Coke, Pepsi and their cronies cough up. One indication that consumers are getting the Rethink Your Drink message came from the NPD Group's National Eating Trend's in Food & Beverage Consumption report. From 2001 to 2011 the biggest decline in consumption was for carbonated drinks (-7 percent) followed by milk (-6 percent) and fruit juice (-5 percent). During the same time sales of bottled water increased 10 percent.

The soda companies are going to try all kinds of new tactics to convince us that their products are healthy.

In fact, this week Pepsi is introducing a new product in Japan called Pepsi Special. It apparently contains dextrin, a fat blocker that the distributor claims will help reduce fat levels in your body. 

According to ABC’s Medical Unit blog, “Eager to appeal to young, health-conscious men, Pepsi has put out a comical ad on its website showing a businessman trying to chose between a woman dressed in a pizza costume and another in a burger outfit. The message is you don’t have to give up either, if you drink the Pepsi Special.”

Are people stupid enough to believe that guzzling liquid sugar is a good way to lose weight? 

~ Paula

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