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Sports Drinks Hardly Better Than Soda Atlanta Triggers Sizzling Soda Talk "Big Bird" Sells Out to "Big Sugar"

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:14pm
Reporter Caroline Hilbert of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers an excellent article following up on the soda industry's new vending policy, which restricts or pulls sodas out of the schools but permits sports drinks and juices in middle schools and high schools and juices in elementary schools.

One of the important points journalist Hilbert raises is that some nutritionists call into question the value and nutritional quality of sports drinks and juices, a concern I raised yesterday.

For example, if you examine the ingredients in Gatorade, you won't be impressed.

Indeed, this popular sports drink -- while lower in calories than soda at 50 calories per 8 ounces --still contains 14 grams of sugars coming from sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup.

What's more, it includes other questionable chemicals and even artificial dyes. Gatorade Raspberry Lemonade, for instance, includes citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, ester gum, sucrose acetate isobutyrate, red 40, and blue 1.

The big question is this: Why is this sports drink so much preferred over soda for schools? Is it really much different -- other than that it's a little lower in calories and includes 30 mg of potassium?

As I mentioned previously, when it comes to juices, many nutritionists and doctors say eating the whole fruit is the way to go, because you get fiber and the sugar takes more time to process in your body.

Hurrah to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for launching some tantalizing talk about soda in the schools with their "Talk of the Town" item, "School vending machines lose their pop."

The newspaper -- based in Atlanta, Georgia, which is home to The Coca-Cola Company -- invited readers to comment on the latest news from the soda industry's move to ban or restrict soda from the schools.

The AJC started the soda talk by asking readers the following: "Will pulling sodas and sugary drinks out of school vending machines help solve the child obesity problem? Or is it a symbolic gesture?"

It's exciting to see the heated online discussion that ensued and is still going on. See yours truly's remark there, too. 

Other newspapers, blogs and websites should take the lead from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to get the discussion going.

Join in. Get heard. Post on the AJC site.

And, of course, remember to post your thoughts here, too.

What do you think about this new soda industry policy? Is this just a shameless publicity stunt or a legitimate effort to help solve the childhood obesity problem?

What's with Big Bird, Elmo and Grover?

They're supposed to be learning and teaching Healthy Habits so kids eat right and exercise. If that's the case, they why are they taking a not-so-sweet path -- one laden with high fructose corn syrup?

What gives?

You see, Sesame Workshop boldly announced earlier this year that Cookie Monster was cutting back on his favorite sugary nibbles, a move that I applauded. What's more, the company unveiled its Healthy Habits initiative.

But now Sesame Street's Big Bird, Elmo and Grover are pushing Musselman's applesauces from Knouse Foods that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and contain artificial colors (Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellow 5).

Are the Sesame Street people so naive that they haven't heard about the slew of recent studies that link high fructose corn syrup with obesity and other dangerous diseases?

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