Over the past few years, American society has put a focus on making healthier choices. The rising obesity rate has many people concerned about the health of Americans.
Recently, McDonalds has begun displaying the calorie counts of each item on the menus. The goal is for consumers to think about what they’re buying.
Many people blame soda consumption as a contribution to the rising obesity rates. Soda makers are reacting by arranging to display the calorie counts of each soda right on the vending machine buttons. Along with the additions to the vending machines, soda makers have tagged on the propaganda message, “Try a low-calorie beverage.”
By 2013, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group will initiate the change to the vending machines in businesses in Chicago, IL and San Antonio, TX.
To help ensure that this soda campaign against rising obesity rates is effective, the American Beverage Association has provided a $5 million grant to study how the health of soda consumers in Chicago and San Antonio has changed. This study will not only collect weight data but also other factors that affect overall health.
Contrary to my assumption, sugar-sweetened beverages, like sodas, make up only 7% of the average Americans calorie consumption. In fact, average calorie intake of sodas has dropped by 20% since 2001. It seems as though while the obesity rate is on the rise, calories due to soda consumption has declined.
Despite these facts, soda makers have to follow the interest of the consumers. Smaller containers, low or no calorie options, and clearer labels have all been considered as options toward fixing the obesity issue.
Since soda consumption doesn’t seem to be a large contributor to the rising obesity rate, how can we determine the culprit?
I have a hard time believing that forcing everyone to be calorie conscious will drastically change the obesity issue. What other factors need to be considered? How can the food and beverage industries account for these other factors in their productions?
Is it fair for social movements, like curbing the rising obesity rate, to dictate the products that companies produce?
How will displaying calorie counts on vending machines and menus change the way companies market and produce products?
By: Carali Van Otteren
(Photo by jacquelinetinney under a Creative Commons License)