Health

Soda companies scale down soft drink sizes

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A couple of power house soft drink companies rolled out new ads Thursday; they're scaling down the size of their soda cans, while critics are trying to get people to move away from the sugary drinks.

Wednesday, Marin City kids were learning to substitute soft drinks for water. The non-profit teaching them about the benefits of eating healthier is called LIFT and is one of 15 Bay Area community groups that have banned all sugary drinks.

Dan McClure is with Generations Community Wellness, who advises the groups.

"People eat what is in front of them and if all that's in front of them are M&Ms, birthday cake, soda, then that's an issue," he said.

The Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative is the organization that started the campaign called "Rethink Your Drink." It's now a statewide effort. They say the reason they target the sugary drinks is because they are the single largest source of added sugar in a person's diet.

"The average teen is drinking 39 pounds of sugar a year just in their sugary drinks," BANPAC spokesperson Susan Karlins said.

That's if they consume one to two sugary drinks a day.

"And so the calories that that represents are really contributing to the overweight and obesity issue across the country," Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Darlene Fujii said.

As McClure points out, a 20 oz soda drink has 65 grams of sugar.

Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other drinks have been long-time rivals, yet Wednesday they ran full page ads in newspapers to promote their smaller drinks -- more choices, smaller portions, fewer calories. Supermarkets already sell them. The American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola and Pepsi, says balancing calories with physical activity is the key to leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

The beverage companies are also adding the number of calories to the front of their drinks.

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