TIME

Big Soda Sues San Francisco Over Beverage Warnings

<> on June 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan—2015 Getty Images Bottles of soda are displayed in a cooler at a convenience store on June 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

The soda industry’s largest trade body is suing the city of San Francisco over rules that would require mandatory warning labels on soda advertisements and ban their display on city property.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Beverage Association on Friday, claims the regulations due to come into force July 2016 are unconstitutional. The city, the complaint said, “is trying to ensure that there is no free marketplace of ideas, but instead only a government-imposed, one-sided public ‘dialogue’ on the topic—in violation of the First Amendment.”

The legislation was passed unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June and stands among the strongest laws in the country relating to sugary beverages. The label, which must be affixed to all soda advertisements, would read: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

The plaintiffs in the complaint say forcing signs to carry that label “violates core First Amendment principles.”

Other parties to the suit also include the California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association.

TIME Retail

Hug a Diet Coke Drinker, Because They’re Going Extinct

Diet Coke drinking is down 7%

Diet Coke drinkers are going the way of the dinosaur and BlackBerry users, according to Coca-Cola’s earnings report out Wednesday.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based company said the Diet Coke brand declined 7% over the last three months. That continues a trend of negative Diet Coke growth the company’s been seeing for a decade, TIME reported in February:

But soda drinkers aren’t giving up on the sweet stuff entirely. Coke’s low-calorie Coca-Cola Zero brand is up 6%, almost entirely making up for Diet Coke’s plunge.

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s driving the Diet Coke to Coke Zero shift. Some diet sodas have suffered from speculation over the health consequences of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, causing PepsiCo to remove that ingredient from Diet Pepsi. But aspartame is found in Coke Zero as well as Diet Coke. It could be simply a matter of taste: While Diet Coke has a distinguishable flavor, Coke Zero is intended to taste exactly like regular Coke.

TIME Fast Food

McDonald’s Sells Fewer Sodas With Happy Meals

General Images From Inside A McDonald's Restaurant
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Happy Meal is displayed for a photograph on a tray at a McDonald's Corp. restaurant in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.

The fast food giant made a pledge to curb kids' love of sugary drinks

McDonald’s is selling fewer sodas with its happy meals after removing the drinks from its kids menu.

The fast food chain agreed to remove sodas from the menu board and marketing material for its kids’ meals last July as part of a partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Between July 2014 and May 2015, 48% of patrons got soda with their Happy Meals, compared to 56% during the same period a year earlier. McDonald’s has been pushing kids to select healthier drink options such as milk and juice instead.

The anti-soda initiative is part of a broader pledge by McDonald’s to help families lead healthy lifestyles. The company has said it will offer side salads, fruits or vegetables as an alternative to french fries in 20 major markets by 2020.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME food&drink

San Francisco Approves Warning Label for Sugary Drink Ads

US-FOOD-BEVERAGE-HEALTH
Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images A woman shops for frozen foods on an aisle across from sodas and other sugary drinks for sale at a superrmarket in Monterey Park, California on June 18, 2014.

Measure is aimed at curtailing locals' consumption of high-calorie drinks

San Francisco lawmakers unanimously voted on Tuesday to put warning labels on all advertisements for sugary beverages in the City by the Bay. This first-in-the-nation law is set to go into effect this summer, which means billboards or taxi-cab ads for Coke or Gatorade will soon bear this message:

WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.

The new law, which the mayor has 10 days to sign or veto before it automatically goes into effect, was passed as part of a package aimed at curtailing locals’ consumption of high-calorie drinks linked to health problems such as weight gain and diabetes. The city’s board of supervisors also voted to ban advertisements for sugary drinks on publicly owned property—such as bus stops—and to prohibit the use of city funds for purchasing sugary drinks.

“Today, San Francisco has sent a clear message that we need to do more to protect our community’s health,” Supervisor Scott Wiener, who proposed the warning label, said in a statement. “These health warnings will help provide people information they need to make informed decisions about what beverages they consume. Requiring health warnings on soda ads also makes clear that these drinks aren’t harmless — indeed, quite the opposite — and that the puppies, unicorns, and rainbows depicted in soda ads aren’t reality.”

This victory for Wiener and his allies comes on the heels of a defeat for lawmakers last year, when they tried and failed to pass a tax on sugary drinks through a ballot initiative. (Berkeley, the liberal bastion across the Bay, succeeded in becoming the first city to pass such a tax.) This year and last year, a state lawmaker tried unsuccessfully to pass a California law that would have required sugary drinks or their location of purchase to bear a health warning label, much like packages of cigarettes.

When TIME asked Wiener whether advocates planned to try again for a soda tax, he said there was momentum for more of the same but no firm commitments yet. “There are discussions happening,” he said. “But it’s too soon to say.”

TIME coca-cola

The Iconic Coca-Cola Bottle Is Getting a Surprising Update

Coca-Cola Buys North American Bottling Operations Of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. For $12.3 Billion
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Coca-Cola can and bottle images appear on the side of a trailer outside the Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. bottling facility in Niles, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010.

It's pretty sweet

Coca-Cola has come up with a new bottle: one made entirely of plant material—including sugarcane.

It’s called the “PlantBottle.” Coke debuted it as the World Expo in Milan, Italy, a food-tech conference.

Coke said in a statement that the PlantBottle represents a “more responsible plant-based alternative to packaging traditionally made from fossil fuels and other nonrenewable materials.” The company will use the container across its beverage brands: soft drinks, water, juice, and tea.

PlantBottle is “the globe’s first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials,” said Nancy Quan, Coke’s global research and development officer, in the statement.

The bottles are still plastic, but made from plants including sugarcane and byproducts of processing sugarcane, rather than petroleum products, which leave a much larger environmental footprint. It was developed in partnership with Virent, a processor of biofuels and biochemicals.

Coke made something of a splash in 2009, when it announced that its containers would be made up of 30% plant material. It has sold 35 million of those bottles since then. Coke says those bottles have kept a total of 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Coke plans widespread distribution of the bottles by 2020.

MONEY Tax

More States Tax Tampons Than Candy in America

tampon-tax-more-states-candy-soda
Image Source—Getty Images/Image Source

Feminine hygiene products are taxed more often than soda too.

Forty states tax tampons and other feminine hygiene products, a new report from Fusion finds.

That’s odd given the fact that the 45 states with sales taxes typically allow exemptions for “necessities” like groceries—and, well, menstrual products are a necessity for about half the U.S. population.

Only five states with sales tax—Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Jersey—have explicitly eliminated sales tax on tampons and pads, the report found.

That compares with 15 states (plus D.C.) that treat candy as sales tax-exempt groceries, according to recent data from the Tax Foundation. Eleven states don’t tax soda or candy, but 10 of those 11 do tax tampons.

The offenders?

1. Arizona
2. Georgia
3. Louisiana
4. Michigan
5. Nebraska
6. Nevada
7. New Mexico
8. South Carolina
9. Vermont
10. Wyoming

And it’s not just about candy and soda: Plenty of states tax feminine hygiene products but allow exemptions for much more seemingly frivolous purchases.

New York, for example, taxes tampons but apparently not dry cleaning, newspapers, American flags, admissions to live circus performances, or “wine furnished at a wine tasting.”

Perhaps we should take a cue from our northern neighbors: Canada’s government just announced that it will stop taxing feminine hygiene products this summer.

 

TIME Diet/Nutrition

3 Things You Should Know About Natural Sugar

Honey
Getty Images

How to enjoy sweets without disrupting your appetite

As a nutritionist, I advise my clients to avoid soda, eat fruits and veggies, and sweeten recipes conservatively with natural options, like organic honey or maple syrup. They’re less processed than refined sugar and they contain other beneficial substances, including antioxidants. Some new research, however, has left people wondering if these better-for-you sweet foods are actually okay to consume, particularly for weight loss.

Here’s a summary of the study and my bottom-line tips on how to sweeten up your life a little, without wreaking havoc on your waistline.

University of Southern California researchers looked at the responses of 24 volunteers who consumed flavored beverages that were sweetened with fructose one day, and glucose another. Brain scans revealed that when subjects looked at images of food after consuming fructose, there was greater activity in the area of the brain tied to reward. The participants were also asked if they’d rather eat the food immediately, or forgo it for a monetary bonus. When drinking fructose, more of the men and women chose the immediate food reward. The researchers said the results indicate that, relative to glucose, fructose has less of an appetite-suppressing effect, and may be more likely to trigger eating.

Why the difference between the two sweeteners? When you consume glucose, your pancreas secretes insulin, which allows cells to use it for energy. Insulin also tells your brain that you’ve received fuel, which curbs appetite. Since fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion, you brain may not be getting an “I’m good, stop eating now” message.

So how does all of this relate to honey and produce? Well, honey, maple syrup, molasses, fresh fruit, and even some veggies (like sugar snap peas), all contain fructose. But in my opinion the aforementioned study doesn’t mean you should eliminate the lot.

To reap the rewards without disrupting your appetite—or derailing your weight—follow these three tips.

With fruit, fresh is best

While fruit is a natural source of fructose, the sweetener is also bundled with fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And in fresh fruit the fructose isn’t concentrated. For example, one cup of blueberries naturally contains about 7 grams of fructose, along with 3.5 grams of fiber and several key nutrients. By contrast, a 12-ounce can of soda sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contains about 22.5 grams of fructose, with no fiber or nutrients. The fluid and fiber in fresh fruit (in addition to the volume and chewing involved) also positively impact fullness and satiety.

In other words, the amount and form of the fructose you consume matter. If you’re concerned about fructose and appetite, stick with fresh fruit. If you eat dried fruit, remember that the portion shrinks by about three quarters, so you should eat a serving no larger than the size of a golf ball. The same holds true for juice. Some of my clients love fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice at breakfast, but I advise them to drink a shot, not a tall glass, and capture as much pulp as possible.

Don’t drink your sugar

The USC study was done with beverages. Previous research has shown that sugar in the form of a thin liquid isn’t as filling as solid forms, so you won’t compensate by eating less food when you drink a soda, lemonade, or sweet tea. That means the extra calories just add to your overall intake, and if you don’t burn them off, you’ll either prevent weight loss or further fill up your fat cells. For this reason, I advise clients to choose solid sweet treats, preferably made with ingredients that offer some nutritional value (check out my dark chocolate superfood pudding, which can also be made into a smoothie).

Other studies have shown that thickness also prompts eaters to perceive foods as more filling. In a University of Sussex study, researchers asked volunteers to rate how filling they expected various thick, creamy drinks to be. The subjects did this by identifying how much solid food they thought they would need to eat to experience the same level of fullness. The conclusion: thickness, not creaminess, impacted the expectation that a drink would better suppress hunger. In two additional studies, thicker drinks were found to suppress actual hunger (not just anticipated hunger, as in the Sussex study) more than thinner versions of beverages with the same calorie levels. This is one reason I’m a big fan of chia seeds—they soak up water to form a thick, gel-like texture, which adds a satisfaction factor to sweetened puddings, smoothies, and parfaits.

Limit sweets overall, from all sources

I’ve had many clients over the years who have tried to eliminate sugar completely only to experience intense cravings, and eventually break down, and binge eat sweets. If all or nothing doesn’t work for you, you’ll be happy to know that even the strictest recommendations on sugar, from organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA), don’t recommend banishing it completely.

According to the AHA, the daily target for added sugar (e.g. forms like honey and sweetened foods) should be no more than the equivalent of 6 level teaspoons for women, and 9 for men. That means adding a teaspoon of organic honey or maple syrup to Greek yogurt, having a few squares of dark chocolate each day, or enjoying an occasional dessert is well within the limits. It’s also far less the 22 daily teaspoons the average American takes in each day.

For more about sugar, including where it may be hiding, and how to limit your intake sanely and sustainably, check out my article The 4 Most Confusing Things About Sugar.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Group Wants to Ban the Word Diet From Diet Sodas

Diet soda
Getty Images

A consumer-advocacy group is calling today for federal regulatory agencies to investigate the use of the word diet by diet-soda manufacturers, calling the adjective “deceptive, false and misleading” and citing research that finds diet soda may actually lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.

“This looks like a classic case of false advertising,” says Gary Ruskin, co-founder and executive director of U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, Calif., which wrote two letters — one to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and another to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — demanding a sweeping investigation into the use of the word diet in advertising by companies that use artificial sweeteners. U.S. Right to Know claims that the use of the word violates federal law against false advertising, branding and labeling of food products. “We’re doing this to make sure that people don’t get sicker from these products and gain weight when they want to be losing weight,” Ruskin says.

MORE: Should I Drink Diet Soda?

Some research suggests that diet soda may contribute to weight gain instead of weight loss, possibly by decoupling the link between sweet taste and caloric consequences, thus leading to overeating.

“Previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan,” said the American Beverage Association, the trade association representing the beverage industry, in a statement provided to TIME. “Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages — as well as low-calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages — in helping to reduce calorie intake. Furthermore, low- and no-calorie sweeteners have repeatedly been deemed safe by decades of scientific research as well as regulatory agencies around the globe — including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

TIME faith

How Coca-Cola Became Kosher for Passover

Always Coca-Cola
Cincinnati Historical Society / Getty Images An inspector scrutinizes bottles of Coca-Cola as they pass in front of a piercing light, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 1940s

Thanks to the efforts of an Atlanta-based rabbi in the 1930s, Jews keeping kosher for Passover can still drink a Coke

Starting when Passover begins on Friday night, Jews who are keeping kosher for the holiday must forgo foods with wheat, corn and other grains for the eight-day festival, severely restricting their diet. But one luxury is not out of reach: Coca-Cola.

The Atlanta-based soda maker provides a kosher-for-Passover version of its mainstay cola, identifiable by its yellow cap. Unlike most commercial sodas in the U.S. that are sweetened with corn syrup, this concoction uses sugar, helping it pass muster for those avoiding grains—and making it popular among those who say they prefer the flavor.

Hipsters and observant Jews alike are largely indebted to the efforts of one Orthodox rabbi eight decades ago. Rabbi Tuvia Geffen, Lithuanian-born but residing in Coke’s Georgia hometown, noticed that, of all the dietary restrictions of Passover, staying away from the soda was proving particularly difficult for his congregants. Before the holiday rolled around in 1935, responding to popular demand, he investigated the ingredients of the soft drink.

“Because it has become an insurmountable problem to induce the great majority of Jews to refrain from partaking of this drink,” Rabbi Geffen wrote in his rabbinical ruling. “I have tried earnestly to find a method of permitting its usage. With the help of God, I have been able to uncover a pragmatic solution.”

The solution was, it turned out, relatively easy. This was before the use of corn syrup, but the ingredients still sometimes included grain sugars; so Coca-Cola assured Rabbi Geffen that they would exclusively use cane sugar during Passover as well as scrap one other minor ingredient that the rabbi deemed not to be kosher. And with that, Rabbi Geffen pronounced Coke to be kosher.

The dramatic development was announced in a letter to TIME published in the May 13, 1935, issue, sent by one Samuel Glick of Atlanta. Glick was following up on a TIME article about the Jewish Passover celebration that had been published the previous month:

In connection with your interesting article on the celebration of Passover (TIME, April 29), you may be interested to know that, for the first time. Atlanta orthodox Jews were allowed to drink Coca Cola during this solemn season. With the approval of Atlanta rabbis, special Coca Cola bottle caps were stamped with the Kosher symbol and signs denoting the same were displayed in soda fountains. The drink was not altered in any way.

Read the 1935 story about the Passover celebration: Passover and Easter

MONEY Food & Drink

Diet Coke Loses Its Fizz to Pepsi

Data from Beverage Insider shows more Americans are purchasing Pepsi than Diet Coke, making it the second most popular soda in the U.S.

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