Consumer group: Teens are drinking too much sodaOctober 21, 1998
Web posted at: 9:40 p.m. EDT (0140 GMT)
From Reporter Louise Schiavone
(CNN) -- Some people call it soda and others call it pop. But one influencial consumer watchdog group is calling carbonated soft drinks just plain bad news.
"Soda pop is the quintessential junk food -- candy in a can," said Michael Jacobson, executive director the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Liquid candy, call it what you will, it is junk; it is devoid of nutrients except for calories."
The group said today's teen-agers are consuming twice as much soda, sugared or diet, as milk. It says 20 years ago, it was the other way around.
CSPI blames the increased marketing of soft drinks to teens, from television ads to in-school soft drink machines.
Based on a two-year-old Department of Agriculture survey, CSPI estimates the average 12- to 19-year-old male consumes 868 cans a year or about two and a half cans a day. A girl in the same age group drinks 628 sodas a year or an average of less than two cans a day.
The soda pop trend concerns many pediatricians.
"The soda, because it does occupy space in the gastrointestinal system, replaces the desire to eat more nutritious food," said Dr. Bette L. Catoe.
But at least one industry group calls the criticism a classic consumer watchdog over-reaction.
"They won't be happy until they squeeze every bit of sweetness and joy out of life it seems," said Gene Grabowski of the Grocery Manufacturers of America.
During recent years, the CPSI has also warned the public about the dangers of Chinese food, movie popcorn, fast food, and most recently, the fast substitute, Olestra.
The National Soft Drink Association commented, "Yet again the Center for Science in the Public Interest is promoting unfounded consumer alarm by attacking a perfectly safe and enjoyable food or beverage product, in this case soft drinks."
Some doctors and consumer groups warn too many soft drinks can increase the risk for heart and kidney trouble, obesity and tooth decay.
The CSPI concedes that sodas, as an occasional addition to a healthy diet, are not harmful.
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