Mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once said, “The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest.” Public health activists and lawmakers who are singling common beverages as a unique driver of the complex issues of obesity and type 2 diabetes are a prime example of what Whitehead warned about simplifying science.
An Opinion-Editorial written by Executive Vice President of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association Ellen Valentino and published in the Baltimore Sun demonstrates that misguided, discriminatory regulations such as the warning label regulation mayoral candidate Nick Mosby and the Baltimore City Department of Health proposed distracts us from finding real and long-term solutions.
“A label that wrongly blames soft drinks for illness will mislead people into believing there is a Band-Aid solution to a serious health concern,” writes Ms. Valentino.
Obesity and obesity-related conditions such as diabetes have multiple risk factors, including genetics, a lack of physical activity and the over-consumption of calories from any source. In the past four decades Americans have added 450 extra calories to their daily diet. Only about 34 of those calories are from sugar.
So, how can this one piece of the average American’s diet be the unique cause of our nation’s obesity challenge? It is simply illogical.
In fact, a recent study from Cornell University proves that policies aimed at restricting certain foods and beverages are ineffective.
As Ms. Valentino points out, “To help reverse direction on obesity, our efforts would be better spent on public policies that address the over consumption of calories from all sources. Industry and government can work together and help people heighten their awareness about how to maintain balance in the diet.”
That is what America’s beverage industry is doing. Supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, our member companies put clear calorie labels on the front of all of the products we produce. Our members also offer a range of low- and no-calorie options and package sizes so that consumers can choose a beverage that is right for them. We launched the Balance Calories Initiative to help Americans reduce their beverage calories and encourage them to balance everything they eat, drink and do.
It’s through these efforts that we will achieve real and lasting solutions to the complex health challenges like obesity and diabetes.