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Health Advocates Call on Beverage Industry to Make Changes that Matter

DAVIS, Calif., Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just as the nation's largest soda producer launches an advertising campaign applauding their role in addressing obesity, public health advocates are challenging them and their industry cohorts to step from behind the public relations curtain and make real, constructive changes that will have a meaningful impact on the nation's obesity epidemic.

"The Coca Cola Company admits in their new advertising campaign that there is a serious obesity crisis and they say that they want to be part of the solution," says Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). "Since they and their beverage industry brethren played such a major role in creating the problem (43 percent of the increase in daily calories Americans consumed over the last 30 years came from sugary drinks), we encourage them to use their considerable assets – a broad product mix, unrivaled access to youth markets and unparalleled influence on what Americans drink – to make real changes to protect the health of Americans."

To that end, CCPHA and other health advocates from around the nation have outlined seven concrete steps the beverage industry can take to address the nation's growing obesity crisis.  All of these, Goldstein stresses, are doable and allow the soda corporations to maintain profitability, but they will demand a fundamental shift in the industry's traditional marketing practices.

7 STEPS THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY CAN TAKE TO BE A REAL PART OF THE SOLUTION TO OBESITY

  • Stop all advertising and promotion of sugary drinks to children under the age of 16. 
  • Print warnings on containers stating the link between consumption and obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
  • Stop selling sugary drinks in parks, afterschool programs and other places frequented by children. 
  • Put in large print the number of teaspoons of sugar per container. 
  • Stop marketing sports drinks as healthy beverages.
  • Charge more for sugary drinks than equivalent no-calorie beverages.
  • Stop promoting the sale of sugary drinks at store entrances, checkout aisles and in store windows. 

For rationale behind these steps, visit: http://tinyurl.com/7StepSolution

"The new Coca Cola ads leave you with the mistaken impression that the soda giant has voluntarily made meaningful changes to its business practices. In reality, Coke's minor changes came only after enormous public pressure, through legislative mandate and as the result of growing public pressure to regulate their marketing practices. We're inviting the industry to demonstrate their commitment to the health of our children, our families and our nation, by making important changes that can have a dramatic impact on obesity rates across the country. Our proposals are aimed at the largest consuming sector (children) and at the marketing practices that make heavily sweetened beverages nearly irresistible to youth."

Over 20,000 people, including some of public health's most esteemed professionals, have signed onto a petition urging the beverage industry to enact these seven steps.

The California Center for Public Health Advocacy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the health of Californians. To learn more about CCPHA visit: www.publichealthadvocacy.org.

SOURCE California Center for Public Health Advocacy

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