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There's simply no comparison between soda and tobacco

Tim WilkinTim Wilkin

Susan Perry’s June 25 Second Opinion column (“Soda industry borrows from Big Tobacco playbook with 'feel-good' campaigns”), much like the PLoS paper it reviews, is a biased opinion piece that fails to acknowledge the beverage industry’s real, collaborative efforts to develop meaningful solutions to public-health issues throughout our nation and the globe.

As a former board member of the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco, I strongly object to the irrational comparison that Perry and PLoS make between these two industries.

There is simply no comparison between soda and tobacco – not among the products, nor the industry’s business practices. Tobacco in and of itself is harmful. Beverages, on the other hand, are not, and they can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle.

Long history of involvement

Furthermore, corporate social-responsibility programs are not unique to the beverage industry and are widely embraced by leading businesses of all kinds around the globe —  businesses that want to make a positive difference in the lives of customers, consumers and communities. 

In fact, the non-alcoholic beverage industry has a long history of active involvement in the communities we serve. To suggest otherwise, as this article does, is simply biased and irresponsible.

Average calories per serving are down

By blindly reporting everything in the PLoS report as fact, Perry denies the reality that the PLoS authors ignore. Over the last 15 years, full-calorie soda sales have declined 12.5 percent and the average calories per serving from beverages are down 23 percent. At the same time, obesity rates have risen. A balanced article would have included this type of fact, no matter how inconvenient.

America’s beverage companies are part of meaningful solutions to help reduce obesity, from product innovation and clear labeling to support of programs that promote balanced, active and healthy lifestyles. Beverage companies provide consumers with numerous beverage options so that they can choose what is best for them and their families.  

It’s time for “media and public health experts” to acknowledge the enormity of the problem and begin seeking solutions that are going to effectively curb obesity, rather than scapegoat one product or industry.

Tim Wilkin is the president of the Minnesota Beverage Association, based in St. Paul.

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Comments (3)

If America really wants to

If America really wants to get serious about fighting obesity, the Federal Government should drop agricultural subsidies for corn. Then, your high-fructose corn syrup infused, diabetic coma inducing, 1.3 L Super-Big Gulp wouldn't be cheaper than apple juice. Plus, the taxpayers will save a chunk of change.

Lies, damn lies statistics

"Beverages, on the other hand, are not, and they can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, active and healthy lifestyle."

Sure, water, milk, beer, wine, coffee, tea - there are a lot of "beverages" that are healthy in moderation. But that is not true of the sugar laden beverages and their artificially sweetened alternatives. These beverages are, like tobacco, inherently unhealthy. And, like tobacco, their effects on the body encourage increasing use of the product. While sugar laden drinks may not be "addictive", they do create cravings for more as people crash from the sugar high they create.

And, like tobacco, "the beverage industry" engages "communications" professionals to develop propaganda to convince the public that their profitable products are safe. To wit:

"Over the last 15 years, full-calorie soda sales have declined 12.5 percent and the average calories per serving from beverages are down 23 percent."

Lies, damn lies, statistics.

bias?

This article would carry more weight if it wasn't from the people selling the stuff.