Amidst much ballyhooing by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), this week the journal Pediatrics published a study purporting to demonstrate that decreased soda consumption leads to decreased weight gain in adolescents. “New Study Should Spur Action to Oust Soda” crowed CSPI’s press release yesterday, but those of us who have read the study know that the food police have ballyhooed a little too quickly.
In order to achieve the desired effect of decreased weight gain, the Pediatrics researchers arranged home diet drink deliveries every week for 25 weeks. They also worked with parents and children to encourage responsible consumption habits. The control group received no free drinks and no guidance. The result? The only group of children the intervention had any significant effect on were the heaviest ones, almost all of whom were seriously obese.
Pardon our bluntness, but this is news? It doesn’t take a federally funded study to figure out that the heaviest kids need guidance from adults. And just what do these findings have to do with soda, anyhow? If you swap any food or drink with calories with one that doesn’t have calories — or if you just told kids to go outside and run around the block — you’d get the same effect.
In case this study wasn’t enough, the Associated Press also reported on one published in The Journal of Pediatrics this week finding that adolescent girls gained a miniscule amount of weight — less than half a pound, total — if they drank one soda a day, every day, for ten years (the study also found that kids lose a little bit of weight if they go with diet drinks instead, making attempts to ban diet soda in schools all the more laughable). If four or six ounces of weight over a decade aren’t reason enough to hit schools with lawsuits, we don’t know what would be.
For the science on why anti-soda regulations and lawsuits do nothing good, be sure to check out our new report, “Why Soda Bans Don’t Fight Childhood Obesity,” conveniently available for download fresh to your hard drive.