On Monday we told you how the media over-hyped a study (appearing in the journal Pediatrics) that attempted to blame childhood obesity on fast food. It turns out that the journal’s publisher, the American Association of Pediatrics, announced a new anti-soft-drink policy position in the very same issue. The policy’s most controversial recommendation: “Pediatricians should work to eliminate sweetened drinks in schools.” This is unfortunate. In making its recommendation, the Association overlooked a great deal of scientific research demonstrating the lack of any connection between obesity and soda consumption.
A recent study in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that children’s weight was not associated with the consumption of non-diet soda. The study’s authors wrote:
This analysis refutes widespread speculation that carbonated soft drinks are responsible for the increase in overweight among children and adolescents … [P]olicies aimed at curtailing consumption of carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks/ades are impermanent solutions that will fail to coerce children and adolescents, in particular, to reject soft drinks.
A study by Georgetown University researchers found that overweight children consumed, on average, about a shot-glass more soda per day than children of normal weight. That amounts to 30 calories —
the same number that’s in a carrot. And there is no evidence that banning soda in schools reduces children’s overall soda consumption anyway. Kids can easily bring soda from home, or leave school grounds to buy a can. And as we’ve pointed out before, the research that purports to back soda bans in schools is deeply flawed.
Maintaining a healthy weight follows a simple formula: “calories in” should equal “calories out.” Even if we were to exclusively focus on the calories-in side, there’s no reason to single out soda as a culprit — especially considering that a can of soda contains fewer calories than an equivalent amount of many fruit juices.