Warning: Advice from the misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) should be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe several dozen). That’s the message of our full-page ads in today’s Washington Post and Washington Times, which come in response to CSPI’s demand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require what Reuters calls “cigarette-style warnings on soft drinks.”
As we’ve come to expect from CSPI’s fearmongers, their demands are short on science and long on hyperbole. While they cite three studies — all of which we have previously debunked — about a supposed connection between soda and childhood obesity, they fail to point out that a recent Harvard study of more than 14,000 adolescents found no link between soda and obesity.
CSPI’s call today for a “rebellion” against soda is simply a rehash of its long-standing crusade. The group first issued its “Liquid Candy” report in 1998. But shortly after it was released, CSPI was forced to correct its numbers on kids’ soda consumption. The actual numbers were half of CSPI’s original calculations. Following the controversy, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote:
Some of the fizz has gone out of one of the more extreme public-health recommendations of recent times. Last month the Center for Science in the Public Interest, citing obesity and other health dangers, called for the expulsion from American schools of Coke, Pepsi and other soda pops … The CSPI now acknowledges that its initial report contained an error by its consultant resulting in daily consumption numbers for 13- to 18-year-olds that were double the correct figures. Although it has issued a correction, the CSPI still sees American kids as soda-besotted and stands by its no-soft-drinks recommendation. Still, this caloric credibility gap will probably undermine what was a puritanical proposal in the first place.