APTN: Sugar Turns Sour For Soda Industry
SUGAR TURNS SOUR FOR SODA INDUSTRY
SUGAR TURNS SOUR FOR SODA INDUSTRY
A growing number of institutions have banned sugar-laden sodas in the US.
It part of the fight against the flab as obestiy rates soar.
Sugar in sodas is losing its fizz in restaurants across the United States as city officials try to cut the obesity bulge.
New York City officials are trying to trim waistlines in the Big Apple by enforcing health legislation on transfats, and excess sugary sodas.
Obesity kills 5,800 people every year in New York City alone, considerably more than the number of U.S. troops who died in the entire Iraq War, the Health Department says.
Diabetes, a disease that can be linked to obesity, kills another 1,700 people. Another 2,600 are hospitalized for limb amputations necessitated by complications of diabetes.
City health officials estimate that treating health problems caused primarily by obesity in New York City costs $4 billion per year.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing through an unprecedented ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in the hopes of combating obesity. And some critics say America’s largest city is becoming a “nanny state.”
New York City’s Board of Health signaled strong support Tuesday for the mayor’s plan to fight obesity by banning the sale of large, sugary beverages at local restaurants.
Linda Gibbs, New York City Deputy Mayor says US health budgets are bulging because of the obesity crisis.
She says, “We spend four billion dollars through the Medicaid budget on treating the diseases that are the outgrowth of obesity and so it is a concern to all of us financially and we should be concerned about the well-being of each other just on a individual, human level.”
The proposal by New York City government would require most licensed food service establishments in the city to limit serving high-calorie drinks like colas, lemonade and punch to containers no larger than 16 ounces.
People would be free to buy another round, but restaurants couldn’t serve the 20-ounce cups now so popular at fast food eateries, movie theaters, and food courts.
The proposal only needs to win approval from one government body to become law, the city’s unelected board of health, and the panel took the first step toward making that happen Tuesday with a unanimous vote to begin a public comment period on the new rule.
A formal vote on whether to approve the measure will come later, but several board members spoke strongly in favor of the proposed restriction.
A public hearing was scheduled for June 24. Revisions are still possible, but opponents clearly face an uphill fight. From a purely public health perspective, there are few reasons to oppose the rule.
Bloomberg says he is proposing the ban because obesity has become a public health crisis and because sweetened soft drinks bear a huge share of the blame for making people so fat.
Sugar has long been used as currency, collateral and is a global commodity – but now some doctors say consuming mass amounts of sugar-laden soda is toxic, and could lead to health problems.
But a change is sweeping vending machines and stores across the U.S. as a growing number of institutions move to limit or outright ban access to sugar-sweetened soda and sports drinks.
A patchwork of cities across the United States are adopting a patchwork of policies to tackle America’s sugar crisis.
Meanwhile, in Chicago the City Council is considering public comments on a proposal to drastically increase the taxation of sugared beverages.
It’s becoming a more common struggle for U.S. cities, resulting in a patchwork of policy approaches, that are serving as a flashpoint in a struggle over the nation’s obesity crisis, its cost, and how to limit a major culprit of causation.
In one of the most sweeping reforms, Vanguard Health Systems announced an outright ban on all sales of sugar-sweetened drinks at their four Chicago area hospitals.
“These drinks are harmful,” says Illinois Public Heath Institute Chief Executive Officer Elissa Bassler. “When we think about a hospital–a place filled with people who have taken an oath to do no harm–we really think how can the hospital remove some of the harms that are within their four walls.”
Vanguard Health Systems’ four hospitals in Chicago, will be joining one other hospital in Boston that has banned sodas and sports drinks. Making Vanguard the first health system in the U.S. to completely eliminate the availability of sugared soft-drinks across their entire brand.
MacNeal Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Charles Bareis says the ban on sugary beverages follows years of efforts trying to get patients to stop drinking soda and sports drinks that contain high amounts of sugar.
“In our exam rooms we have a soda bottle and another bottle full of sugar,” says Baris. “There’s a question on both bottles, and it says: ‘which bottle has more sugar’ – and the trick is they’re both equal.”
And that 13 grams of sugar adds up quickly. According to a study funded by the U.S. government, sugared beverages accounted for 20-to-40 percent of all weight gained by Americans between 1977 and 2007.
A marked shift in diets over three decades, and now for many Americans nearly half of the added sugar they consume is from one single source?sugary soft drinks.
It’s an issue that Vanguard Health Systems employee, Dorthy Welsh knows firsthand. She lost over 30 pounds, after the Vanguard MacNeal Hospital piloted a program to pull sugared soda from vending machines and start incentive based programs aimed at inspiring staff to live healthier.
Welsh gave up drinking sugared soda altogether, and now eats healthy meals and snacks on offer in the hospital’s newly redesigned healthy living cafeteria.
Welsh says she is the happiest she has ever been, and is proud that her 16 years of service to the hospital also helped to make herself healthier alongside her patients.
Theresa Rudnick executed the changes for Vanguard MacNeal Hospital, she says she’s excited about providing healthier options for the people that care for the patients.
“They may only eat one meal a day here. But it’s going to be a healthy one,” says Rudnick.
Welsh says she hopes the all-out ban on sugary drinks will send a strong message to patients and staff alike.
The public policy shifts have not gone unnoticed by the soda industry, which has seen their profits rise proportionately to the increasing American waistline, say researchers.
Soda manufacturers and industry groups, including the American Beverage Association, have launched major advertising efforts, aimed at acknowledging the obesity problem and highlighting voluntary changes the industry has enacted.
Dr. Goutham Rao, author of ‘Childhood Obesity’ sees the massive ad campaigns as a potentially positive sign that beverage manufacturers are beginning to look to more healthy product offerings. “They have kids too, they don’t want to get overweight” he says.
While refusing to disclose how much is being spent on ads to promote their position, the American Beverage Association says they are engaging in voluntarily proactive measures – like the removal of some sugared beverages from U.S. school sites – which the industry says led to an 88 percent reduction in the liquid calories consumed at school.
University of Oklahoma Researcher, Christina Shay says that no matter where beverages are consumed, that it’s the sugar that can be toxic, noting that it’s especially troublesome in liquid form:
“Sugar does have side effects,” reminds Shay. “In lower normal levels it can be perfectly fine, the body can use the excess calories and the excess energy from sugars–if it’s burned off through the course of the day, through physical activity and exercise.”
Healthy-eating recommendations call for people to limit sugary beverages to about 64 calories per day.
“What that translates into is approximately three servings, or less, per week of sugar-sweetened beverages to maintain cardiovascular health,” Shay advises.
Still for many Americans there exists a large gap between recommended and actual consumption with half of the country currently drinking at least one sugared beverage everyday.
The challenge for health officials is to cut the bulge, without curbing American liberties.