In a recent post in the Washington Post blogs by Jennifer LeRue Huget The American Cancer Society Action Network is suggesting that sugary drinks need to be looked at the with the same scrutiny we look at Cigarette Smoking.
And while no one is arguing with the fact that these sugary drinks need to be looked at with the same scrutiny as we look at cigarette smoking, except maybe The American Beverage Association who according to the Jennifer’s blog are concerned with advocating discriminatory policies. Which is not surprising at all re the food and beverage investment in marketing to children.
I blogged earlier this year in the spring that the Department of Health and Human Services reports that food and beverage advertisers collectively spend $10 to $12 billion annually to reach children and youth. More than $1 billion is spent on media advertising to children, and another $4.5 billion is spent on youth-targeted public relations. Wait, there’s more: $3 billion is spent on packaging designed for children.
And while I am a believer in not having “perfect” being the death of “good”. If in fact the American Cancer Society- Action Network believes that the health risks of drinking sugary drinks should be viewed by U.S. health officials in the same way that they viewed the health risks of using tobacco in the 1960s why is is then up until very recently SPRITE ZERO was the sponsor branded on the American Cancer Society’s prevention website “Choose You” seen on their landing page this last spring. SPRITE is a Coca-Cola product. I now see since the earlier part of the summer the sponsor is now POWERADE ZERO also made by Coke. According to the Livestrong website a 12-oz. can of Coca-Cola Classic contains 41 grams of sugars, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Put another way, a can of Coke contains about 10 tsp. of sugar.
I am not anti Coke-and even on a rare occasion there is hardly anything better that a real Coke out of a glass bottle icy- cold. But this simply is not about a bottle of soda but rather the way we approach prevention in this country. We approach prevention in this country the same way we might say “have a nice day” to a stranger.
This issue is about reducing risk and really understanding prevention and the price for some of these illnesses. For no matter what model of health care you subscribe to we all pay for illnesses in our community on several fronts.
The American Cancer Society has covered some important bases posting relative to corporate sponsorship on their “Choose You” site. However I believe the lines are a little fuzzy and confusing as this is divided into products not corporations.
Its important to remember when we talk about evidenced based science -that a lack of science does not translate to “safe”.
The reality is if we are going to get a handle on cancer we must include prevention into the cancer conversation in a serious and transparent way.
We are seeing increased incidences in cancer and I believe the science based efforts to reduce risk must be transparent. Its just to serious, childhood leukemia and brain cancer have increased sharply in incidence. Between 1975 and 2004, among children 14 years and younger, primary brain cancer increased by nearly 40 percent and leukemia by over 60 percent. Cancer is now the second leading cause of death for children in the US, exceeded only by injury.(Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center)
I think I might understand the branding effort between Coke and The American Cancer Society and no doubt its pricey – and wonder what Phillip Morris would pay to teach our non-smoking programs. What if I got McDonald’s to teach our nutrition classes? Who would that help? What would that prevent?
I look forward to the day when there really is Less Cancer- Less Incidences of Cancer not more treated Cancer. Please see blog post here on the Washington Post’s blogs.