I have a problem with being misled.

Really? Is that what you say in your commercials?

I like soda. The cool fizzy liquid flowing down my throat on a oppressive hot summer day makes me feel happy and free. My favorite is root beer, Barq’s in particular. It’s the perfect partner for vanilla ice cream. For chocolate ice cream I prefer Pepsi. Pepsi, being slightly sweeter, is better than Coke for ice cream floats.  #myPEPSIjingle

I also love drinking!  If I am tired and it’s hot outside, I’d rather have a  slurpee smoothie. liquid something instead of something to eat. You can’t just have a can of soda or small glass. That’s not going to satisfy. You have to get the big 32 ounce cup! AND it’s cheap. A slurpee is barely $2.  Economical, fills you up, and cools you down..that’s THREE birds that I’ve killed!

However, I have decided to cut soda and sweetened beverages out of my life. I’m not skinny and diabetes is an unwelcome friend of Love’s family.

1 sugar cube equals 1 teaspoon of sugar

Why soda? Because soda and other sugar sweetened beverages is the  highest source of sugar and empty calories in my (and many folks’) diet. I am lucky to live in Oakland and was blessed to learn a lesson from Alameda County Public Health’s Soda Free Summer Campaign. The Recommended Daily Allowance of Sugar is at most 40 grams or 10 teaspoons per day (4 grams = 1 teaspoon).

A 12 oz soda averages 39 grams of sugar. There goes my limit. DANG IT!

Out of the many sources of sugar in my diet: cereal, juice, ice cream, tea, candied yams, tooth paste.. soda contains the most sugar with the least reward. I’d rather just have ice cream. That’s 36 grams of sugar, but with dairy and calcium..a nutrient!  Unlike soda, it’s easy to limit your ‘one sitting’ intake of sugary foods. You can  literally drink liters of soda in one sitting. There are only so many candied yams you can eat in one sitting.

Armed with this knowledge, over the past two years I have tried to reduce my sugary beverages consumption and drink more water. Yet, I am constantly being coerced, misled, and bamboozled by the beverage industry.

In the past, I hated water for a long time. No flavor, no color, no sugar…BORING.  I can’t just stop drinking soda COLD Turkey. It’s an addiction. I need a patch or something…..

I KNOW..I can drink Vitamin Water. It  has some flavor.  It’s water with vitamins. I can get healthy and quench my thirst at the same time!  One of my favorite flavors was Formula 50, ’cause it’s grape, and I like purple. (I <3 Purple Rain).  Formula 50 contains vitamins with lots letters (C, B, E). But it also has 32 grams of sugar per bottle (DAMN IT!!). No more Vitamin Water for me!

A better alternative:  I can quench my thirst and get all those nutrients (and more)  by chowing down on some grapes.

Vitamin Water doesn’t tell you about the unnecessary sugar in their commercials. They market it as a healthy, better than water, beverage. They know Vitamin Water isn’t all that healthy and  their attorneys ASSUME you know it, too.

“Vitamin Water is a great tasting, hydrating beverage with essential vitamins and water and people can clearly see from the labels, which are FDA compliant, what’s in every bottle..”

How many of us read those labels on the back? How many of us calculate the nutrients in our diets? How many educated folks know how to read a nutrition label? How many low-income people do? How many African-Americans? Are 50 Cent’s fans reading the label?

Yet, we are the ones most effected by over-weight and obesity. According to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new “F as in Fat”  report low-income individuals and African Americans have some of the highest obesity rates. “Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states, and 30 percent in 42 states and D.C. …..More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year”

Part of the reason behind these alarming statistics is lack of education, low access to healthy foods, and economics. Junk food is easy to prepare, cheap and available everywhere, particularly in low-income communities. There is a Mc Donalds, 7-11, or liquor store on every block in the hood. Some people have to travel across town to reach a farmers market or even a Safeway.

At the same time African-Americans are targeted with advertisement of unhealthy foods. I am part of the Pepsi Generation.  Popeye’s sponsors Black History Month on BET. McDonald’s celebrates Black History 365 Days a YEAR. They are LOVIN’ US!

I can’t totally blame soda, or sugary sweetened beverages for being overweight. I know I need exercise more and pay better attention to what I eat in general. However, I have a problem with being misled by false claims in commercials.. Most importantly, I don’t appreciate being lured into unhealthy eating on purpose. And if I, as an educated woman, have this issue what about those who aren’t as educated and don’t have as many choices?

The Federal Trade Commission has a problem with it, too. They are asking the food industry change their practice in advertising unhealthy foods to children. If we as adults have a problem with being swayed by unhealthy food marketing, you KNOW our children do, too. They eat what we give them. They also believe Ronald Mc Donald is their friend.

The FTC has new guidelines which will be up for discussion in Congress this summer. They are asking for public comment. Do you have a problem with being misled and want to do something about it?

Comment on the unfair marketing of  unhealthy foods by visiting FTC’s website: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/foodmarketedtochildreniwg/ Do it TODAY! The deadline is July 14th.

I learned about all of this a the Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego two weeks ago. (Shout out to CCPHA, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy Makani Themba-Nixon,  the FTC and many others!) There should have been a lot more African American’s there. There weren’t a lot of low-income people there, either.  They need to know this. I am sharing what I learned with you now. Share this with someone else.

Share with me, too! What are some of the ways you are cutting sugar from your diet? What commercials are misleading you? Do you think the food and beverage industry is being unfairly targeted?

7 Comments

Filed under Advocacy, Health, Oakland, Obesity

7 responses to “I have a problem with being misled.

  1. I had a brief conversation with my gyno because she called me obese: I informed her that I was African, not obese *BEFORE* studies came out that obesity charts were largely based on white women. Notwithstanding the advertising (a friend visiting from overseas commented on the number of fast food joints in East Oakland vs. North Oakland), notwithstanding Big Business’s obsession with taking $$$ from low income and not giving an inch to their bottom line, people have to take responsibility for their health because you have nothing without it. *by-the-bye, I had to fire that gyno as my physician I had to shut her up before I knocked her out for her racist assumptions*

  2. The blog post was very eye opening. I have never tried vitaminwater but I did assume that it had no sugar (like diet soda). The obesity statistics given in this blog are sad. I don’t know how to reach out to more african american’s about this issue. Gatherings around food are apart of our rich history as African Americans but it has really gone too far.

  3. You think vitaminwater was a shock? Many restaurant salads are 800 calories or so. ouch

    • The amount of sugar in Vitamin Water wasn’t a “shock”. It was their lawyers admission that it’s not healthy, although they are marketing it as such.

      We all go through this dance with food companies. We know that Jack in the Box isn’t healthy or nutritious. They don’t sell it as such. They don’t pretend. We know that when we get a $6 burger, we are buying a heart attack between a bun. That’s fine.

      But for Vitamin Water to market itself as a healthy drink, and especially to low income minorities who have little educations, options or wherewithall to question it..that’s wrong to me.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. LOVE you black twitter news. :)

  4. Pingback: McDonald’s Makes Happy Meals More Healthy! | Love, Health and Advocacy

  5. Until I read this post, I never gave thought to Vitamin Water being such a problem. I drink the Zero Calorie Triple XXX version. C’mon it’s zero calories and it looks so healthy, it’s got those acai berries which are like miracles for weightloss and anti-oxidants, I mean it said so in another product ad so of course it’s true, right? Thank you Tonya, for lifting this up. I’m being a little bit funny but I do drink Zero Calorie Triple XXX version and now I know to better read the label.

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