The Soda Wars

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Is soda (a.k.a. "pop" in the less-civilized [read: non-New Jersey] parts of the country) the crack cocaine of bad eatin', as the Center for Science in the Public Interest charges in its latest anti-soft-drink screed, "Liquid Candy"? Indeed, for the nutrition nannies at CSPI, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and other sweet carbonated drinks are every bit as dangerous to the health of the nation as "carbonic snow" was to residents of Port Charles. So much so that CSPI is calling for warning labels on every bottle, can, and keg of the stuff.

Soda, especially diet soda, is getting a bad rap, says Elizabeth Whelan of the American Council on Science and Health. She systematically debunks the Coca-Cola canards (e.g., that soda is particularly bad when it comes to causing tooth problems, osteoporosis, and obesity; that diet soda causes cancer; etc.) and then concludes:

The bottom line in pondering soft drinks in the context of good nutrition and health is this: soda is mainly water — and thus a good source of hydration. All of us need calories for energy — the problem is not the calories per se but that many of us consume too many of them. Instead of categorizing foods, such as soft drinks, as "good" or "bad," we need to use common sense and follow the cliche: everything in moderation.

Whole thing here.

Reason's Jacob Sullum poured hot fudge over CSPI's most overblown claims in his excellent story on "The Anti-Pleasure Principle: The 'food police' and the pseudoscience of self-denial." Read it here before going to lunch. See you at the buffet line.