The American Beverage Association (ABA) has slammed a series of studies that link sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity, accusing them of doing “nothing meaningful” to help address the issue.
The studies, which were published by the New England Journal of Medicine in collaboration with the Obesity Society, provided new data, showing that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may influence the development of obesity among children, adolescents and adults.
“Obesity is a serious and complex public health issue facing our nation and the rest of the world, and we all must work together to solve it. We know, and science supports, that obesity is not uniquely caused by any single food or beverage,” said a statement from ABA.
“Thus, studies and opinion pieces that focus solely on sugar – sweetened beverages, or any single source of calories, do nothing meaningful to help address this serious issue.”
“The fact remains: sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving obesity. By every measure, sugar-sweetened beverages play a small and declining role in the American diet.”
The New England Journal of Medicine special comes less than a month after the city of New York banned the sale of super-sized sugary sodas in an effort to curb obesity levels.
No single cause
The three studies provided new data showing correlation between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity among children, adolescents and adults.
A Trial of Sugar-free or Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Body Weight in Children concluded that “masked replacement of sugar-containing beverages with non-caloric beverages reduced weight gain and fat accumulation in normal-weight children.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Genetic Risk of Obesity established that the “genetic association with adiposity appeared to be more pronounced with greater intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
A Randomised Trial of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Adolescent Body Weight found that among “overweight and obese adolescents, the increase in BMI was smaller in the experimental group than in the control group after a 1-year intervention designed to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
The ABA, which represents companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the US, has argued that sugar-sweetened beverages make up only 7% of the calories in the average American diet, meaning that 93% comes from other sources.
Focusing on a small course of calories rather than the total diet is a misplaced allocation of resources, the ABA added.
Super-sized soda ban
Earlier this year, the Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg issued a ban on sales of super-sized sodas. The law, which is due to come into force in March 2013, prohibits the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16oz.
The Obesity Society, which partnered the New England Journal of Medicine in last week’s sugar-sweetened beverage obesity special, backed the NYC ban.
“The Obesity Society supports the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg to ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverage larger than 16 ounces. This is a measure that will help efforts to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which research shows are a major contributor to increased calorie intake by both children and adults, thus potentially contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic,” said a statement from the Society at the time.