The prospects for anti-soda activists’ Draconian regulations and frivolous lawsuits lost much of their fizz yesterday, after the American Beverage Association announced a more restrictive policy on selling soft drinks in schools. Still, the diet scolds set to hop on pop redoubled their efforts to single out soda as a leading cause of childhood obesity. But while soda may be a politically expedient distraction, hard scientific evidence suggests that the lack of physical activity among the nation’s youth is the real cause of today’s childhood obesity rates.

That was CCF’s message in our op-ed in this morning’s Atlanta Journal Constitution:

And the more political energy expended on vending machines, the less there will be left to address the real cause of childhood obesity: physical inactivity.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark McClellan observes, “Actual levels of caloric intake among the young haven’t appreciably changed over the last 20 years.”
Study after study corroborates McClellan’s point.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism pointed out: “It is often assumed that the increase in pediatric obesity has occurred because of an increase in caloric intake. However, the data do not substantiate this.”

Translation: The problem won’t be found in vending machines. It’s in the gym. It’s in the recess yard. And it’s in our neighborhoods, where kids now spend far, far more time with their Xboxes than they do running around outside or biking with friends.

The remaining questions are: What explains the bizarre war on soda? And how has the public been duped into thinking that a band-aid solution like eliminating soft drinks can solve the problem? Our op-ed offers answers:

Public attitudes have been skillfully manipulated by interest groups, whose greatest concern is that someone, somewhere may be enjoying what they eat and drink.

Anti-soda activists — who also seek extra taxes and warning labels on soft drinks, as well as tobacco-style class-action lawsuits — have an insatiable thirst for regulating our diets. They allege soda makers’ new school distribution policy doesn’t go far enough. They want a complete ban on soda in all schools.

In other words, a young man or woman old enough to carry a gun in Iraq won’t always be able to choose his or her own beverage.