Soda companies fight back against ads linking soda, obesity

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 7,2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": Well, as America's obesity rate soars, soda companies say it is time to can the attacks on them.


NARRATOR: From the moment you wake up, you face choices, and it is up to you to determine what is best for you. Get up or snooze. Stripes or solids. Oatmeal or yogurt. And when it comes to what you drink, you have choices, too. Juice, water, or something new, low calorie, or no calorie, 7.5 ounces or 12. America’s beverage companies are delivering to you, your family, and communities.


CAVUTO: Not so fast.

Nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield says soda shares a lot of the blame in this obesity debate.

So you don't like what they are saying here. It is all choice. People can do what they want, Rebecca.

REBECCA SCRITCHFIELD, FOUNDER, ELITE NUTRITION: Well, actually, I do like what they are saying, in that they are offering more choices. They are decreasing the portion sizes. And this is good. I hope consumers buy it.

But here is the reality: Nothing is new here. You walk into any doctor's office, any dentist, any dietitian; they are all going to say the same thing. Cut back on sweetened beverages. It is not good for your health.

CAVUTO: What about unsweetened beverages, diet soda, because you guys rail against that as well, right?

SCRITCHFIELD: You know, with diet soda, at least you do not have empty calories coming from sugar, which is the link to diabetes and obesity that has been associated.

But you definitely want to be able to moderate diet beverages as well.


Well, because the main liquid we need is water. And so diet beverages could have artificial colors or artificial flavorings. And we want to make sure that we mostly get water.

The other concern that I have with -- especially with sweetened beverages is, when that comes in, what else is going out, especially with teens? The number one source of calories with teens is actually coming from soda. We have a very big calcium deficiency. It is rampant in the U.S., where 86 percent of girls and 64 percent of boys are calcium deficient. And what studies show is that they are not getting the milk that they need because they are getting sugared beverages.

CAVUTO: All right, but you know what I say? Let's say all your intentions are good, as they always are. You are a decent person. You want people to be fit like you.


CAVUTO: And that's wonderful. But you creep into our lives like Velcro, and you won't leave.


CAVUTO: It is one thing with the soda and then the fatty foods at McDonald's and they better get salads on board and yogurt, so they do. That is not enough. You still target them -- not you individually.


CAVUTO: And then we go on and on to the pizza makers and who puts too much into their crust and who doesn’t. In other words, you never seem to be satisfied.

SCRITCHFIELD: You know I see your point.

It can -- advocacy groups, they're going to pick on one thing, sodas, and the next week, they're going to pick on something else. So I do see your point is that it does seem to be a lot of policing going around.

Honestly, one of the things that I would be concerned about, about this link between soda and obesity is that thin people are saying, oh, well I am thin, so I can drink all the sweetened beverages I want. That is not necessarily true.

From a health perspective -- and I am a nutritionist -- but you can be thin and develop diabetes or a stroke from your habit.

CAVUTO: No, no, no, no doubt. But you see what I’m saying, that you -- I know you have our interests at heart.


CAVUTO: And you want us all to be thin and fit like you. Great.


CAVUTO: But I am just thinking, bit by bit, we sell our nutritional soul to you. In other words, everything we consume, everything we take, everything we do, you are more or less saying to us, you fat fools, you cannot get a grip or your life, it is up to us to do that.

SCRITCHFIELD: I actually, Neil, just want people to be healthy.

And the truth is you can actually be overweight or obese and still be healthy. It is your habits that matter. And I would say -- maybe you agree with me -- but we spend too much time in the U.S. talking about obesity, when we should be talking about health. What are our habits?


CAVUTO: Yes, but you are coming into schools and you're taking out machines, and then you’re going into fast-food joints and you're taking out the burgers.


CAVUTO: But you don't stop. I don’t know what it will be next.

SCRITCHFIELD: The beverage industry went into schools and they cut back the sweetened beverages. And I think they reduced it by 80-some percent. I can't remember their exact stat.

But the beverage industry did step up and they are doing...


CAVUTO: Yes, but wouldn't it be a killer in the end, Rebecca, if everyone is still fat, they have done all this stuff and they are still fat; in fact, they’re fatter than they were before?

SCRITCHFIELD: Well, I think what we need to do is, we need to look at all of the different things.


SCRITCHFIELD: Our food environment is one thing.

We need to make time to exercise. Let's be honest. In our busy schedules, are we really moving like we should be? No.

CAVUTO: All right.

SCRITCHFIELD: Most do not get fruits and veggies. They don't get their exercise. So we need to look at the big picture. I think what the beverage industry is doing are steps in the right direction, more choices, smaller portion sizes. But I think consumers are getting the message that they need to cut back on sweetened drinks.

CAVUTO: All right, Rebecca, thank you -- Rebecca Scritchfield in Washington.


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