America’s self-anointed food police have a new punching bag in their obesity crusade: fruit juice. We’re not making this up. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that a growing number of dietary do-gooders are now pointing their fingers at juice as a culprit for fattening waistlines:
The inconvenient truth, many experts say, is that 100% fruit juice poses the same obesity-related health risks as Coke, Pepsi and other widely vilified beverages. … [I]t’s time juice lost its wholesome image, these experts say.
"It’s pretty much the same as sugar water," said Dr. Charles Billington, an appetite researcher at the University of Minnesota. In the modern diet, "there’s no need for any juice at all."
Is this new target in the obesity blame game any more legitimate than activists’ perennial demonization of soda? Nope. As the Times notes, a 2008 review of 21 studies found that 15—over two-thirds—did not support the theoretical link between juice and weight gain. But dietary activists still single out soda despite a wealth of academic research finding that soda isn’t a unique cause of obesity, so don’t expect the grape juice naysayers to be quieted in the face of actual evidence.
It’s worth noting that “Twinkie tax” creator Kelly Brownell isn’t jumping on the opportunity to call for a government War on Fruit Juice. According to the Times, Brownell is “loath to provoke the tens of millions of Americans who consider their morning juice sacrosanct.” Read: Brownell won’t target fruit juice yet, but after fruit juice’s public image is dragged through the mud and turned into “the new tobacco,” all bets are off. For now, Brownell is sticking to his soda tax song-and-dance out of purely political considerations, not ideological ones.
We have to ask: What’s next? Raisin rations? Warning labels on avocados? Red-light / green-light stickers in the produce aisle? Paging Alex Padilla…