Thursday, May 6, 2010

Soda In America: Children And Families

May 5, 2010

This week, we're examining soda in America, and today, a look at children and families. Michele Norris talks with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about his goals for nutrition standards in schools, about the choices he hopes young people and their families will learn to make, and about his own soda habits. She also speaks with community health activist Nura Green of the Aban Institute about the challenges children and families face in urban environments, where there are few healthy choices.

NPRSoda sound bite

To Tax Or Not To Tax? States Enter The Soda Wars

Companies that make sugary soft drinks, such as Coke and Pepsi, have been battling with activists worried about obesity in the U.S. The latest fight: whether to tax soda.

Just How Bad Is Soda For The Body?
Two experts debate the issue from different perspectives.

Against Soda
Gail Woodward-Lopez, associate director of the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley, says that as Americans have consumed more sugary drinks, obesity rates have soared.
"We have very strong evidence linking those two trends," she says. What's more, she says, soda doesn't have the same "filling properties" other foods and beverages do, so people drink soda but don't reduce other caloric intake. And they're drinking soda instead of healthier drinks, such as milk. Woodward-Lopez says that sweetened beverage consumption accounts for 50 percent of the sugar intake in the U.S. diet. And sugar intake has been linked to the increase in diabetes. She says that people should drink soda in moderation -- once per week -- but she says it "definitely should not be part of your daily intake."

For Soda
Maureen Storey, senior vice president for science policy at the American Beverage Association and a former research professor at the University of Maryland, says a handful of studies disprove the link between soda and obesity. She says that Americans are consuming more of everything and not exercising enough. "Soda is comprised mostly of water," she says. "Water is the most important nutrient that we have." She says the high-fructose corn syrup in soda also provides energy. "If we are active and need a refreshing beverage after a nice long walk or run, you can have a beverage and quench your thirst and stay hydrated." Storey calls the comparison between tobacco and soda "hyperbole." "Smoking kills people," she says. "There is no safe level of consumption. Soft drinks are an enjoyable, safe product that people have been enjoying for generations." --NPR Staff

NPRSoda1 sound bite