Yesterday was declared “National No Soda Day” by an activist organization called the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) — presently unaffiliated with the American Medical Association. The group argued that people should cut soda “out of their diets,” and urged medical students around the nation to drop their cans and preach to the rest of us. The only problem for AMSA: its anti-soda statements, and the research that supposedly backs them up, are nothing more than fizz.
In a “frequently asked questions” section of AMSA’s website, the group notes that soda is just the first step in its anti-food-choice crusade. Responding to the question “Why are you picking on soda?” AMSA states:
Obesity is caused by many factors. We choose one. We have to start somewhere. There are good data on the relation between soda and adverse health affects. There are more years for more “No (fill in your favorite food)” Days.
The “good” evidence AMSA relies on comes from dubious research we’ve debunked before, originating with Steven Gortmaker, David Ludwig and the other “Fizzy Five” anti-soda researchers, as well as one ridiculous study that followed only 21 subjects. The group also recycles the term “liquid candy,” coined by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which deftly employed statistical malpractice to fuel its anti-soda report of the same name.
Donning a white coat and stethoscope and offering medical advice way above his pay grade, AMSA spokesman Lenny Lesser complained on the Fox News Channel yesterday about the supposedly “high caloric density of a liquid sugar beverage.” That statement falls flat. As Good Housekeeping explains, “To calculate the energy density of a food, divide the calories per serving by its weight in grams. A low ED is under 1.5, while a high one is over 4.0.” For the record, a regular cola has an energy density of only 1.8 — the same as 1% milk or orange juice — while yogurt has an energy density of 4.2. But you don’t find anti-obesity activists clamoring for a ban on yogurt. Yet Lenny the Activist Med Student didn’t hesitate to use this false claim to scare viewers.
AMSA’s attack on soda follows previous forays into areas such as “environmental justice” and “Green hospitals.” The organization, which wields a substantial $3 million annual budget, was started in 1950 under the auspices of the American Medical Association. Just ten years later, the group spun off and “refocused its energies” into activism. Some final causes taken on by AMSA’s oh-so-serious members, who resemble a fraternity more than a medical group: “Med students love to party, bike for democracy, and meet up with other young folks organizing for change!”