Finally, there’s a truly positive step in addressing the obesity epidemic in kids. The William J. Clinton Foundation announced last Wednesday that it has struck a deal with major soda manufacturers to end sales of liquid crack at schools. If you missed it, you can read an article about it here. Bravo, Bill!
By liquid crack, for those not familiar with my pet name for them, I refer to high-fructose-corn-syrup sweetened flavored water–ie, non-diet sodas. Childhood obesity, to my view, can be laid to no small degree at the doorstep of the explosion of fructose consumption, fueled mainly by a bottomless tank of HFCS sweetened beverages, a topic we wrote about extensively in The Protein Power LifePlan(Warner 2000).
With this bold move, the purveyors of empty-calorie, carbonated beverages will no longer be selling them in the school yards. It’s a real start.
Three cheers for Cadbury Schweppes, Coco-Cola, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association for taking this important step on behalf of the health of American kids. Cynics will say that since they’re being kicked out of a lot of school vending machines by concerned parents and administrators anyway, the big players of the beverage industry have seen the way the parade is already going and are getting right out in front of it to at least take advantage of some good PR. Whatever their motivation, the upshot is that it’s an act of charity and responsible citizenship and it will be good for the kids.
So from my corner, I say: Hip Hip Hurrah!
Maybe my fondest wish–that the giants of the food industry would begin to act responsibly to stem the looming health crisis that will surely befall us when a nation of obese kids and teens becomes a nation of obese, diabetic, hypertensive, insulin-resistant sick adults–isn’t such a wild dream after all. Maybe next they’ll begin the gradual reduction of sweetness in these beverages, as I detailed in a recent blog.
Now if we could get the other big boys–those of the fast food world, exemplified by McD’s, Wendy’s, KFC, and Taco Bell–to further curtail the soda spigot by eliminating supersizing and putting their HFCS soda machines back behind the counter where they belong, leaving only water, soda water, and ice out and accessible for endless refills, we’d really be on to something.
The Clinton Foundation’s initiative is a small step on a long journey, but we’ll never get there any way but by taking one step forward…and then another…and then another.