Last year, a committee of experts published an alarming report on childhood obesity for a scholarly journal published by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The committee listed a litany of dietary habits that cause children to pack on the pounds. First on the list: "Frequently consuming fast food and large volumes of sweet beverages (e.g., fruit juices, soft drinks)."
The report recommended eliminating sweet drinks entirely or severely limiting their consumption.
That requires willpower, of course. And unfortunately, the Leawood-based American Academy of Family Physicians has set a poor example when it comes to resisting the lure of the soft drink industry.
The academy has accepted a grant from Coca-Cola, reportedly in the neighborhood of $500,000. It will use the money for educational materials about drinks and sweeteners for its consumer Web site, FamilyDoctor.org. Leftover funds will go into the academy's general budget.
In return, Coca-Cola gets what? Legitimacy, for one thing. Consumers are less likely to consider a product unhealthy if it's listed as a partner with a leading physicians’ alliance.
In a more shameful scenario, the soft drink manufacturer would succeed in muting the message that the academy puts out to its consumers.
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