SodaThe New York Times ran a very prominent piece titled “The Decline of ‘Big Soda,’” and it represents an advancing of the ongoing discussion around soda and obesity in the U.S.
The piece opens by documenting how various soda tax proposals have failed, however “even as anti-obesity campaigners… have failed to pass taxes, they have accomplished something larger. In the course of the fight, they have reminded people that soda is not a very healthy product. They have echoed similar messages coming from public health researchers and others — and fundamentally changed the way Americans think about soda.”

Indeed, the NYT states: “Over the last 20 years, sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent. Soda consumption, which rocketed from the 1960s through 1990s, is now experiencing a serious and sustained decline.”

Back in 2012, Harvard’s School of Public Health released its fact sheet on “Sugary Drinks and Obesity.” Among its conclusions: “Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A typical 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories. A 64-ounce fountain cola drink could have up to 700 calories. People who drink this ‘liquid candy’ do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food and do not compensate by eating less.”

Perhaps most incredibly, according to the NYT: “The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child. From 2004 to 2012, children consumed 79 fewer sugar-sweetened beverage calories a day, according to a large government survey, representing a 4 percent cut in calories over all. As total calorie intake has declined, obesity rates among school-age children appear to have leveled off.”
The reports follow a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Co. He stated, in part: “I am disappointed that some actions we have taken to fund scientific research and health and well-being programs have served only to create more confusion and mistrust. I know our company can do a better job engaging both the public-health and scientific communities—and we will.”

“By supporting research and nonprofit organizations, we seek to foster more science-based knowledge to better inform the debate about how best to deal with the obesity epidemic. We have never attempted to hide that. However, in the future we will act with even more transparency as we refocus our investments and our efforts on well-being.”