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Strengthening Communities in Jacksonville

Henry Ford once said, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”  That is definitely not the case for Jacksonville, Fla., and Mayor Alvin Brown – the 1st place winners of the large city category of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.

Helping to tackle the complex issue of obesity through nutrition education, physical activity and increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables, Mayor Brown’s I’m A Star Foundation – “Let’s Move Jacksonville” and “Healthy Corner Stores” – targets youth in Duval County’s Health Zone One (HZ1) in Northwest Jacksonville.  The grant will help the foundation establish two Healthy Corner Stores in existing food deserts in HZ1.

The project is designed and implemented entirely by youth.  The foundation’s student leaders partner with churches, community organizations, corner store owners and local farmers’ markets to make fresh fruits and vegetables available to HZ1 residents at a reduced cost.  A number of educational and fitness initiatives are also planned for  program participants, including workshops, youth-led childhood obesity prevention summits, year-round biking and other physical activities.

We here at Sip & Savor salute this year’s 1st place winners who are tackling obesity on-the-ground and engaging their local communities to lead balanced and active lives.  These programs show that Mayor Brown and the City of Jacksonville understand that nutrition education and physical activity are crucial to solving the complex issue of childhood obesity.


Lima, Ohio – Dedicated To Making A Real Difference

Congratulations to Lima, Ohio, Mayor David Berger for winning 1st place in the small city category at this year’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards – a program and partnership we formed with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM).

Mayor Berger’s program, “Cooking for Change,” brings together high school students from the food management program at Lima Senior High School and the culinary arts program at Apollo Career Center to design and develop a healthy eating initiative that will help to reduce obesity rates in Lima and Allen County.  The 1st place award comes with a $100,000 grant to expand the program.  Click here to check out a short video about this innovative approach to community nutrition support and education.

We know that these kinds of initiatives – like our partnership with USCM – are the type of comprehensive solutions that will have a real and meaningful impact on our communities.  To learn more about the recipients of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards, click here.


Making The Case For…Association?

We at Sip & Savor have frequently reported on “junk science” based on association circulating on the Internet and how it only unnecessarily scares and confuses consumers. This is important because showing an association is far from establishing causation.  Now we bring you yet another example:  A study claiming an alleged link between sugar-sweetened beverages and early menstruation is the latest example of how researchers – and some in the media – are peddling a tale as though it showed causation.  Why does this matter?  Because the study shows no proof of cause-and-effect.  It’s not even designed to do so.  In fact, the authors admit this themselves.

So what do you need to know about the latest paper?  Here goes.  The authors of the study, which was published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at a group of adolescent girls and asked them – once a year – what foods and drinks they consumed over the course of the past year.  Sound scientific?  They then looked at the data and found girls who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks every day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who had two or fewer such drinks a week. That might not seem like much of an earlier start, but some research says that starting menstrual periods at a young age is linked to a small increase in risk for breast cancer.

However, the study out today does not in any way show that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages causes early menstruation, as the senior study author and Harvard professor Karin Michels acknowledged.

“We are showing an association. We can only do some guesswork on the mechanisms,” she said in an interview with CBS News.

We have seen plenty of studies like this before. The research shows that a certain population may have a higher incidence of a certain chronic disease or alleged health outcome all from consuming one or another food or beverage. Does this prove anything? No. In some cases it may warrant further research; in some cases not.

As an example, more people in the United States shop in malls during colder months than in warmer months. One could say increased shopping is associated with temperature, and lowering temperatures boost economies.  The actual explanation is that the holiday shopping season arrives during those colder months.

The history of disguising or oversimplifying these studies in the name of public health also is a road that we have been down before.  In fact, one of this study’s authors has been previously accused of using studies that show only association to advance his own agenda while attacking those that oppose his claims.

The beverage industry has always been committed to providing safe and refreshing options for our consumers.  Yet when it comes to the science purported by some, there seems to be a lot of pointing fingers while using studies that show association and promoting them – and reporting on them – as though they are fact.

And time spent promoting studies such as the one we’re sharing today does nothing to address the real causes of early puberty or breast cancer or even obesity for that matter.  So while our critics continue to pour their money and resources into studies such as these, we will continue to work towards real solutions that can have a lasting impact on our consumers. After all, we think you should go where the science takes you; not drive the science to the outcome you’re seeking.

To learn more about some of the myths and facts about our products, please visit LetsClearItUp.org.


Congratulations, Seattle!

Over the last few days, we’ve been sharing the winners of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.  We are proud to support all of the winning cities and their programs – which use education and information to get communities to live a more balanced and active lifestyle.

Today, we wanted to highlight the 2nd place winner of the large city category  - Seattle, Wash.  Thanks to Mayor Ed Murray’s Seattle Farm-To-Table (F2T) Partnership, Seattle’s most at-risk children will now have increased access to fruits and vegetables through meals served at child care, preschool and before and after-school care sites.

F2T provides complimentary nutrition education for children, parents and staff which highlights the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.  F2T includes three primary components: encouraging child care, preschool and before- and after-school sites to purchase fresh food from local farmers;  providing nutrition education for children, staff and parents; and providing low-cost local produce for families so they can continue at home the healthy eating habits their children are developing at F2T sites.

The USCM grant will allow F2T to expand educational activities to additional family centers, childcare and before- and after-school programs.  Congratulations to the city of Seattle and Mayor Murray!  F2T is a great program that will arm Seattle communities with comprehensive tools to help combat childhood obesity through education and access to balanced meals.


Finding Balance In Green Bay

In Green Bay, Wisc., Mayor James Schmitt is leading the way to help facilitate an overall balanced lifestyle for his constituents.

Last week, we joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) to award winners of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards.  Mayor Schmitt received 2nd place in the medium city category for his Live54218 program which encourages a healthy lifestyle for residents.  Live54218 inspires people of all ages to balance their food, drinks, screen time, exercise and sleep by eating 5 fruits and vegetables daily, drinking 4 bottles of water, watching less than 2 hours of screen time, being active for at least 1 hour a day and sleeping 8 hours per night.

America’s beverage companies encourage a balanced lifestyle for consumers.  In September, we launched our Balance Calories Initiative, which promotes balancing what you eat and drink with what you do.  So, we’re happy to partner with USCM to support initiatives that reach our consumers with a shared goal.

Nice job, Green Bay!  For more information, please view the news release.


Beverage Industry Funds Obesity Prevention in Six Cities

The US Conference of Mayors today selected six cities to receive $445,000 in grants to bolster their outstanding programs encouraging healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.

The winners of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards – Green Bay, Wisc.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Lima, Ohio; New Haven, Conn.; North Miami, Fla., and Seattle – have all created innovative programs to fight childhood obesity. The grants will help the mayors of these cities expand their programs, which range from teaching teens how to cook healthy meals to creative promotions urging balanced diets.

The funds for this year’s Childhood Prevention Obesity Awards came from the American Beverage Association on behalf of its member companies. The ABA has partnered with the US Conference of Mayors to identify and fund community anti-obesity programs that are proven effective, and has given $1.3 million in grants over the past three years to these worthy programs.

“I believe this partnership has advanced the science on childhood obesity prevention, by identifying and supporting innovative programs that have the potential to be replicated in communities across the country,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the US Conference of Mayors.

“The Conference of Mayors is extremely proud of this partnership, and I look forward to continuing our good work with the American Beverage Association to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in this country,” he said.

Obesity is a complex public health challenge that can’t be boiled down to one specific product or ingredient. That is why the beverage industry supports widespread efforts to educate people about balanced diets and give them information they need to make decisions that are right for them. Beverage companies have deep and longstanding roots in communities across the country, so we are pleased to support initiatives that help our consumers in truly effective ways.

“We’re proud to continue our work on this initiative with the U.S. Conference of Mayors because of the positive impact it will have on families nationwide,” said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “This partnership proves that working together drives meaningful results, and has a real impact in America’s hometowns.”

Congratulations to all the winners. We hope you check back with Sip & Savor as we highlight how these six cities are tackling obesity in their communities.


European Food Safety Authority Concludes BPA Is Safe

Europe’s top food safety authority has found that the compound BPA that is used in food and beverage cans worldwide is absolutely safe for consumers – debunking allegations that activists have been making for years.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today stated that its latest evaluation of bisphenol A “concludes that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.” The finding follows that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that BPA “is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.”

BPA is a coating that has been used in food and beverage cans for more than 50 years to prevent contamination and corrosion – and to keep what’s inside fresh. Scientists and government agencies worldwide have repeatedly concluded that the compound poses no health risk.

Yet activists have waged a campaign to ban BPA on allegations that it upsets the balance of sex hormones in the human body, even though there is “no actual evidence of adverse human health effects” from substances such as BPA, according to researchers who were published in Toxicology Letters in December 2013.

The EFSA reevaluated a previous finding in light of new research studies, some of which were being touted by activists as proof that BPA was unsafe.  EFSA found otherwise.

“To be as open and transparent as possible, EFSA thoroughly consulted and engaged with national authorities and stakeholders during this risk assessment to ensure that the widest possible range of scientific views and information were considered,” said Dr. Trine Husøy, a member of EFSA’s expert panel dealing with food contact materials and chairperson of the BPA working group.

The people who work in the beverage industry are proud of the products they make. For generations our companies have made beverages that people love and trust because they are delicious, refreshing and above all safe. America’s beverage industry will always keep its commitment to using only those products and packages that meet or exceed all government health, safety and quality standards.


Working Together To Advance Real Solutions Vs. Scapegoating Products And Standing Still

Yesterday, a study was released claiming that pizza consumption is a top contributor to the caloric intake of children and adolescents.  The study also asserts that on days when they eat pizza, children and adolescents have a higher tendency to over-consume calories than they do on days when they do not eat pizza.

Sadly, this study appears to be yet another attempt to oversimplify the challenge of reducing or preventing childhood obesity.  Reduce or eliminate pizza and caloric intake will decrease … maybe, maybe not.  As we’ve shared before, singling out any one food or beverage does nothing to teach consumers about the importance of moderation and balance.  Instead of demonizing soda – or pizza for that matter – why not work together to help educate children and adolescents about how to balance what they eat and drink with what they do? We think that’s an important conversation to be part of – and why our industry is working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to help reduce beverage calories in the American diet.  And we’re not stopping there.  We have had a long-term partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to help support mayors looking for comprehensive solutions to the complex societal challenge of childhood obesity. After all, we know that when we bring people together we get further faster.  It’s a lot more productive than standing still and watching obesity levels continue to rise.

For more information on our industry’s commitments to being part of the solution to helping reduce obesity, visit DeliveringChoices.org.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today, we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – an American pastor, humanitarian and leader in the Civil Rights Movement.   Dr. King dedicated most of his life to campaigning for equality and justice. We here at Sip & Savor pay homage to this great American.

Many people may not realize that soda fountains played a critical role in the movement’s quest to end the segregationist laws that prohibited African-Americans from attending the same schools or eating in the same diners as whites. In the 1950s, soda fountains or lunch counters were the heart of many communities and were where townspeople gathered for a break from their day.

African-Americans in many of these towns confronted segregation by walking into “white only” restaurants, lunch counters and soda fountains, seating themselves and asking to be served. These courageous men and women were refused service, but their acts exposed the unfairness of the segregationist system. Eventually, in many communities the owners of the businesses relented and ended their refusals, marking some of the first successes in a civil rights movement that swept the country and led to landmark laws guaranteeing equal treatment for all American citizens.

For more on the desegregation movement, check out this article.