Soft Drinks: Scapegoat for Kids' Obesity?
Sugary Drinks Aren't the Only Factors, Say Doctors
May 11, 2005 -- Soft drinks shouldn't shoulder all of the blame for growing
obesity among American children, say doctors in The Journal of
Pediatrics' May edition.
"Obesity is a multifactorial problem," write the doctors, including
Robert Murray, MD, FAAP, professor of pediatrics and director of the Borden
Center for Nutrition and Wellness at Ohio State University.
"Any recommendation that singles out one activity or dietary change can
be criticized as 'simplistic' and is unlikely to be effective in
isolation," they write.
However, Murray and colleagues don't give soft drinks a glowing review. They
call soft drinks "energy dense" and "nutrient poor"
(translation: high in empty calories).
The doctors note studies associating vitamins A and C, they write. "The risk of future osteoporosis and bone
fracture because of inadequate daily calcium intake is only the most prominent
clinical issue associated with declining milk consumption."
as well as a decline in milk intake. This could lead to
nutritional deficiencies such as a decrease in calcium, protein, zinc, and
'Soft Drinks Are Not Tobacco'
Murray and colleagues didn't do a new study on soft drinks. Instead, they
looked at other research on the topic.
here's what the doctors say about soft
"Soft drinks are not tobacco. The majority of Americans drink them. Like
other energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, they may have a place in everyday
nutrition, albeit only in moderation and, in the opinion of the American
Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on School Health, not in schools.
"To be successful in our efforts to prevent childhood obesity, we need
the cooperation of the beverage, restaurant, and vended and snack foods
industries," says the commentary. "We should not make any one of them
the scapegoat for obesity.
"On the other hand, with obesity assuming the mantle of the No. 1
preventable disease in the nation, these industries should expect pediatricians
and parents to hold them accountable for marketing practices that worsen an
already deleterious health situation for children."
"We would agree with him that
It is a multifactorial problem that we all need to be
concerned about and all need to do what we can to address it," says
Kathleen Dezio, spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association.
However, Dezio says other studies have not shown the same results as those
cited in Murray's commentary. "It is not a cut-and-dry thing on the science
side," Dezio tells WebMD.
She also says one of the cited studies had an error in consumption figures
and that the commentary wrongly says soft drink industry representatives funded
other cited research. The industry purchased but did not fund that data, says
The ABA "always urges consumers to look at our whole product mix,"
which also includes bottled waters, teas, fortified juices, and sports
beverages, says Dezio. She says the trade group also promotes a balanced
lifestyle including "a variety of different foods and beverages, eating
them in moderation, and