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  • Hawaii Rejects Soda Tax And Warning Label Proposals


    Politicians in Hawaii have abandoned soda tax and warning-label proposals again this year. Logic and common sense have prevailed thanks to the help of voters like you!

    We stand united in fighting these misguided proposals that unfairly single out one industry.  After all, we know that they will do nothing to improve public health. The truth is, misguided warning labels on certain sugar-sweetened beverages – but not on other more caloric foods and beverages – confuse consumers about the causes of diabetes and obesity.  If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with meaningful education – not misleading warning labels and soda taxes. 

    Hawaii knows that there are better ways to help make people healthy – and we agree.  We must all share in the responsibility, rather than simply scapegoating certain foods and beverages.

    So, thanks Hawaii!  Let’s continue to work together and challenge these shortsighted proposals!

  • The Fallacy of Forbidden Foods

    Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND

    There’s a certain allure to all things forbidden.  What may have started with something as innocent as an apple continues today.  The current bashing of any single food or beverage source is case in point.

    What most people don’t realize is that opinions or hypotheticals don’t count here.  Nutrition is a science.  That means there must evidence-based research to support a claim.

    One claim is that soda or sugar causes obesity. There is no conclusive evidence that either of these actually causes excess weight gain- and studies continue to show inconsistencies in the correlation between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity.  In response to such allegations, many states in the U.S. are trying to use taxes to legislate our society to be healthy, instead of educating the public on how to achieve balance.

    In reality, consumption of beverage calories has decreased by more than 24% since 1998, yet obesity rates continue to climb. A study published by the Cato Institute stated that a tax on soda would not significantly impact body mass index (BMI) or change consumption.  Another study by the Rand Corporation, and funded by the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reviewed soda taxes in 40 states and concluded that small taxes, of a few cents per serving, do little to reduce soft drink consumption or prevent childhood obesity.

    As a nutritionist, I know that very low-calorie diets lead to rapid weight gain as calorie levels are increased and that eliminating certain foods and beverages often leads to binging. Science demonstrates that excess calories and lack of physical activity leads to weight gain. So what good will come of a tax on any single food of beverage? A better approach to health and weight management comes from a balance of foods that people enjoy, in sensible portion sizes, along with moderate activity.

    Time-after-time science comes in on the side of moderation.  Rather than demonizing one food or ingredient, let’s stop demonizing it – or making it forbidden. Though there may be an initial appeal to such tactics, it doesn’t work.  Instead, let’s give consumers sensible information grounded in science and practicality.

    Pat Baird is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and President of the CT Academy of Nutrition.  She is an award-winning author of five books, a noted media spokesperson, and adjunct professor at UConn Stamford. Pat worked in healthcare at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.   

  • Living Well with Options

    Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, Carmichael, California

    I celebrated an important anniversary earlier this month, the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1979. I’ve not only lived but lived well with diabetes for 36 years, and there are many factors that contribute to my good health and happiness along the way—including the variety of food and beverage options all around us that promote good health.

    I first need to recognize the love and support of my family. My dad had Type I for 56 years. My mom has been living with Type I for 30 years. Yes, she was diagnosed after I was, which has led to a few family jokes about how contagious diabetes must be. It’s not, but my parents’ positive attitudes about living well with diabetes certainly have!

    I also need to appreciate the important role healthcare professionals have played in my life. So many have been kind, respectful, and treated me like an individual. They relied on good science to give the best care, but they also relied on good sense to give the best advice based on my personality and lifestyle choices.

    And finally, I need to thank the companies that produce foods and beverages with low and no- calorie sweeteners. Drinking a diet beverage is not only an appealing choice for me a few afternoons a week, but I appreciate all of the research that supports the role of diet drinks in healthful and balanced diets, including a recent review article published last month in Current Obesity Reports.

    The author evaluated data from observational, laboratory, and intervention studies of humans that looked at relationships between low- and no-calorie sweeteners, dietary intake, and weight. Observational studies can provide some insights into associations (not cause & effect). Laboratory studies can provide a glimpse into relationships at one point in time. Intervention studies, in particular randomized, controlled trails (RCTs), provide the strongest data for relationships between dietary intake and health outcomes.

    Science has again supported -- through numerous intervention studies in both children and adults -- that that low- and no- calorie sweeteners tend to reduce intake of sugar-sweetened foods, and to facilitate weight loss and management. This confirmation is beyond great news for anyone, like me, looking to make informed decisions rooted in science not trends. Cheers to good health and the enjoyment of a wide variety of foods and beverages!

    Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, is an award-winning dietitian/nutritionist (RDN), farmer’s daughter, and published author who is inspired by farmers, flavor, and fun! Having had Type I diabetes since age 7, Amy is living proof of the power of mindful choices when it comes to health and well-being.

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