Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open Thread Thursday - Your Turn

I get a large number of daily visitors, but hardly anyone leaves a comment on this blog, so I might be asking too much here. But, I would love to get a dialogue from you, the readers, on the subject of soda. Certainly, burgers, pizza, etc. factor into this discussion, but since people are calling for a soda tax, I will keep it simple and stick with the carbonated sweetened water.

There have been recent calls for a "sin" tax on soda. The NY Times has called on Congress to get involved and treat the soda companies like Big Tobacco. Even the White House wants soda removed from our schools.

So, my question is this: to what extent does soda cause childhood obesity? Whether you believe soda directly effects it or not, it is indisputable that an epidemic of childhood obesity exists, so what should we do about it? Moms and Dads, I would greatly value your input!


Mawnie McCrae said...

Sorry Ter, seems everytime a reset the password to comment it doesn't recognize it. And I am very busy by the you think I just sit around waiting for you blog so I can comment on it???? jk Anyway...Soda lets see. I do not drink it, I have not in 5 that 5 years I have gained 8 lbs. Scott drinks soda daily...full on coke...and he never gains an ounce. My kids drink it on occasion and all are healthy weights and perhaps on the skinny side. So I can't help you here. I have heard that Diet soda is very bad, worse than regular. So don't think that drinking diet coke is less sinful. Basically anything that you can't grow or kill not good. Balance and moderation.
As far as your little spell you just took, your blood sugar was probably low...That happens to me when I don't eat enough protein. And you're right...the only thing I want is sugar. Probably why a coke is so good when you are hungover. Thats probably the only time I crave soda. I think childhood obesity is caused by processed foods which continue to be the cheapest thing at the grocery store. I decided to cut coupons to save money a few years ago and stopped because the only things that had coupons were over processed foods and chips and soda. We eat clean here, I cook the meals and rarely, very rarely we go to Happy M ( Mcdonalds) I would say about twice a year. And now onto the sin tax...don't even get me started on this. Can we have a stupid tax??? I don't need the government to tell me what is bad for me, and if I choose to put crap in my body then the stupid tax would cover it.
How are your muscles feeling???
Do we get a tax break if we are healthy, work out, eat right, don't smoke,??? I sure could use a tax break.

Terrence said...

Maureen - thanks so much for taking the time to post! I think it is very interesting to peek inside the daily lives of wonderful families like yourselves. You made alot of interesting comments, and I hope they spark others!

Patrick said...

Not a fan of the Nanny State. HATE ADDITIONAL TAXES. Instead of a tax on soda, let peole give their kids as much coke as they want, its a free country, but if it is too much and the kids get fat we should be allowed to publically shame the parents until they start feeding their kids right! We all had soda growing up, not too often though, and nobody was fat!

Tony V. said...

I don't care if the Gov't wants to tax soda - they need to raise revenue somehow. However, a simpler solution would be to simply eliminate government corn subsidies.

The reason we did not drink as much soda when we were kids was because it was expensive - there was no such thing as a free refill when we were young. It was expensive because it was sweetened with real sugar, which needed to be imported from other countries for the most part because sugar does not grow efficiently in the US.

Once the government started subsidizing corn production in the late 70's and early 80's, there suddenly became an abundance of cheap corn on the market so the big food companies (ADM, ConAgra, etc.) needed to find alternative uses for the excess corn. One use was the development of high fructose corn syrup, which quickly replaced sugar in most sodas (another use was animal feed, which is a big reason why beef and chicken is so much cheaper than it was 30 years ago). The use of high fructose corn syrup enabled the soda companies to dramatically reduce the price of soda (which enabled most restaurants to offer free, unlimited refills on soda) and made soda much more available to people at all income levels. (Real sugar is still used in soda in many countries which is why Coke bought in some place like Mexico or Brazil tastes different - and better - than it does in the US.)

So, if you want to reduce obesity, promote healthy eating, reduce health care costs, move closer to balancing the federal budget deficit and protect precious farmland that is in danger of being destroyed, simply eliminate government subsidies of corn, soy beans and other mass-produced farm products.

(Now, you may say, what about the poor farmers who need these subsidies to feed their families. Note, the overwhelming majority of these subsidies go to massive corporations like the ones I mentioned above, all of whom get these subsidies by vigorously lobbying (i.e. bribing) a select group of powerful Congressmen and Senators (of both parties) from farm states. These subsidies were recently renewed in the latest incarnation of the farm bill passed a couple of years ago, despite record prices at the time for corn and corn products (due, in part, by the government-created demand for corn based ethanol which most scientist believe has at best a neutral and more likely an adverse affect n the environment).

Terrence said...

Thanks Mr. V - really appreciate the input! This issue is like an onion. The more you start peeling it back, and examine the issues the more passionate the debate on all sides.

Very thoughtful comments!

Mawnie McCrae said...

Anytime you want to peak into my life you are welcome, Scott and I could use a weekend away and you can have the kids..:o)

Mr. Havercamp said...

T- My wife drinks a diet coke every day. I drink two cups of coffee everyday. I grew up with milk, water, and an occasional country time lemon aid. We ate shredded wheat, eggs or pancakes for breakfast. I have no affinity for soda, sweets, or anything really bad for me on the food side.... Booze another issue altogether. So to answer your question, I think it is a parent's responsiblity to be involved in a growing childs diet. When the kid hits maturity the kid makes their own hopefull good decisions. The EFFING thing I do not need is another EFFING law or some lame ass politician telling me what we can or cannot serve our children.

Mr. Havercamp said...

No more effing taxes, laws, etc... Parents need to raise a child to make good decisions. Show some interest and be involved. Stay off the computer when you get home, turn off the wii and tv and put down your blackberry. Pay attention to them. It really is that simple.

Personally, I was raised on eggs, shredded wheat, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese sandwiches, and pancakes. We washed it down with a choice of milk (non-fat), OJ, water, and an occasional Country Time lemonade. Consequently, I have maybe 4sodas a year unless of course there is Bacardi 8 involved!

Terrence said...

Mr. Havercamp - thank you for your passionate arguments!

In find it interesting that the even over the discussion about soda there are two strong arguments - yours, which favors personal responsibility with limited Government involvement, and Tony V's who also seems to favor personal responsibility, but with a strong nod towards higher taxes, through corn subsidy eradication on farm corporations.

In the end, everyone wants the same thing - a healthy, vibrant American youth. But, I find it stimulating to debate where the problem lies: lax parental standards? Farm conglomerates? Soda marketers? Government subsidies?

The First Lady is championing fighting childhood obesity, so I am sure we will revisit this issue again soon. Already I have read two Op-Eds about her endeavor: One was impassioned support to combat childhood obesity with vigorous government interaction, and the other was impassioned support to combat childhood obesity without government interaction, putting the responibility on the individual and local community. Funny, its the same battle lines for every other political issue too - whether it's a can of coke, or Education, or the Environment.

In the end, our kids must eat healthfully and exercise and we as adults must set a good example!

Lori said...

I really don't think that soda should be taxed because I really don't want the government telling me what I should and shouldn't have. Starts with soda and ends with, what? I don't want to find out.

Personally, I gave up soda and caffeine 30 days ago. I was a Pepsi, then Diet Pepsi daily drinker before that. I realized that part of my issue of getting off my butt and making a commitment to eat better was being hindered by a wave of various cravings that would occur throughout my day. Salt, sugar, you name it. Also, when I have caffeine it makes my heart rate skyrocket when I work out. Not good for the ticker.

After going without caffeine and sodas for a couple of weeks, suddenly cutting out beer (a former daily habit), and not indulging in fried foods and steak sounded very plausible. Before that, I really couldn't stick to a healthy diet. I'm also very "all or nothing" and if there are onion rings and my favorite beer, all bets are off that I'll have only one bite and one sip.

I have been following Dr. Furhman's Eat for Health books since 2/8/2010, and I feel so much better. I've dropped 10 lbs so far. My goal is to lose 30 lbs total. I was always skinny until I discovered how much I love steak and beer. Must be something about turning 30 and saying screw it? I have not been nice to my body. But, I'm on the right track now!

Found your blog today, and I'll keep checking back for encouragement and inspiration.

Lori said...

Wow. Sorry, I totally rambled about myself and forgot to mention the parent part.

As for parents, it is our responsibility to teach our kids what is healthy for them and how to eat properly.

My daughter drinks soda a couple times a year. She prefers water, juice and smoothies. She has loved everything I have made from the Eat for Health book recipes. She has always been exposed to raw veggies and fruits as snack options. We don't have packaged snacks in the house. Sure, she has them at school or a friend's house, but she sees it as a once-in-awhile thing. It's all about acclimation.

Terrence said...

Lori - thanks so much, and congrats. Will power is hard to master, but of you are an all or nothing gal, just remember the difference between need and want. Just say "screw it" and do it. Think back to January 23rd. What amazing times have you had were beer and steak were a necessity to such an extent that your life would have been less fulfilling had you not partaked? Now say to yourself, how great would I feel if I chose to cut out steaks and the beers, and ate nutrient-dense food on Jan. 23rd, now today would have been a month! It will help put time in perspective. At least it helps me!

Anonymous said...

I have heard that soda is bad for your teeth and bones - and that is the primary reason I don't allow my kids to drink it. It has no nutritional value, so it is a complete waste of calories. My son would drink soda all day if I let him - which would fill him up and leave him empty nutritionally. I allow soda if we are out so that he won't need to binge on it later in life...but I hope by then he will want to eat and drink nutritionally on his own!
By the way, I love your blog! Very funny and encouraging!

Terrence said...

thanks so much Anon!

Darrell Williams said...

Hi, I am DarrellW on Dr. Fuhrman web site and discovered your blog on

Here is a good information source on the factors and perils of drinking high fructose corn syrup soft drinks.

If for some reason the url doesn't work, send me and email and I'll try to get it to you another way. The speaker is an MD, endocrinologist I believe and he runs a clinic in Calif for obese persons, including kids.


DarrellW said...

Hi, I am DarrellW on Dr Fuhrman web site and found this on

Here is a url that will give you plenty of factual information on soft drinks and on high fructose corn syrup in particular. Th author is an MD, endocrinologist I think, who runs an obesity clinic.

If the url doesn't work for you, please drop be a line and I'll get it to you another way. The item is more than an hour long video, but it is worth the time investment.


Terrence said...

Darrell - thanks so much for sharing that info.

DarrellW said...

Hi Terrence, here is a a surprising follow up on my last post to this thread. I quote below, as of interest on this thread, what I just sent to my close friends.

"Hi everybody, I am recanting! A number of days ago I sent you a url for
a video by an MD about high fructose corn syrup. There has been a long
extended discussion of that video on the Dr. Fuhrman web site
(member-section). It turns out that yes, significant amounts of high
fructose corn syrup is not a good thing, and pretty much what he said
about it is correct; but the research has not been forthcoming
supporting it as virtually the sole cause of the nation's obesity, and
his freedom in excusing from culpability oils, muscle protein and animal
fat and touting the irrelevance of HDL/LDL measures and other stuff is
not resting on what is commonly accepted as much robust research. I.e.
his discounting of SAD as the major player in heart disease seems to the
members of the forum not at all supported by commonly found research

So, this note is hastily written and poorly expressed because I wanted
to get this vetting information out to you quickly (and also it is
beyond my talents to give a thumbnail sketch of the rebuttals and
citations the video stimulated among a group of people who spend a lot
of their time studying modern nutrition publications.)

My conclusion for myself on reading all the rebuttal stuff is that I am
going to seek to ferret out of my diet HFCS when I can, but I am not
going to change my plant strong way of eating one iota, and I am not going to think that because I am cutting out all Dr. Peppers I can resume a largely SAD