A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, summarized by Time, found that daily consumption of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) can age white blood cells by almost two years.
Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and author of the study, analyzed human telomeres, the stretches at the ends of a chromosome. The study notes that shorter telomeres have been linked to shorter life spans, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stress.
From a survey of 5,309 adults, the study found that people who drank more CSDs tended to have shorter telomeres.
“Drinking an 8 oz. daily serving of soda corresponded to 1.9 years of additional aging, and drinking a daily 20 oz. serving was linked to 4.6 more years of again,” Time wrote. “The latter, the author points out, is exactly the same association found between telomere length and smoking.”
For all you Diet Cokeheads out there, it’s worth noting that Epel didn’t find the same association between telomere length and diet CSD intake. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on sugary fruit drinks.
Opinion: Don’t Cry for the Poor, Big Soda
The Huffington Post recently ran an opinion piece by Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian, that challenges the anti-soda tax stance of “Big Soda,” aka the three major soft drink manufacturers and their trade representatives. The article notes Big Soda has challenged soda taxes, such as San Francisco’s Proposition E, with the argument that these taxes are regressive and hurt the poor.
“In the case of Big Soda, though, this is a blatant case of hypocrisy,” Bellatti wrote. “While the welfare of low-income individuals is a front and center talking point for them when it comes to battling taxes, this concern is conveniently overlooked when it comes to marketing and peddling sugar-sweetened drinks.”
The article notes that the median household income for African Americans is the lowest in San Francisco — $29,409. On the other end of the spectrum, whites in San Francisco have a median household income of $86,837. Yet at the same time, a report by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity finds that black youth see 80-90 percent more ads for sugary drinks than white youth. Bellatti argues that the CSD companies have contributed to factors that help explain the class and race-based nutritional divide in the U.S.
“If the well-being of lower-income Americans is so important to the beverage industry,” he wrote, “how about ending the relentless marketing onslaught of sugar-laden and harmful products targeted right at them?”
Of course, The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo would disagree with that “harmful” modifier, but this isn’t their HuffPo piece, after all!
Whole Foods Tries National Advertising
As retailers like Wegmans and Safeway continue to add natural and organic products to their inventory, Whole Foods no longer has unrivaled stake in the national healthy foods game. Perhaps this explains why the retailer announced on Monday plans for its first national advertising campaign.
USA Today notes that Whole Foods, up against slowing growth and falling stock, has begun airing the ads with a two-word slogan: “Values matter.”
“Yes, that’s an intentional pun,” the article notes. “On one level, the term value refers to price. The chain that some critics love to label ‘Whole Paycheck’ is working hard to convince shoppers that, when all [is] considered, its prices can be reasonable in the long run. At the same time, the chain is more broadly referring to the social, moral and ethical values it uses.”
Pepsi’s New Products
Euromonitor beverage analysts Jonas Feliciano and Howard Telford have offered their takes on PepsiCo’s two new products: Pepsi True and Caleb’s Kola.
Telford said that Pepsi True clearly follows the launch of Coca-Cola Life, released in June 2013 and featuring a blend of cane sugar and stevia. It also keeps in line with the beverage industry’s increasing use of the sweetener alternative, he said.
Telford is fascinated by the smaller-scale release of Pepsi True, which has been trial-launched on Amazon.com. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Life has already made its way to stores in the Southeast.
“There’s obviously a little less investment there,” he said of Pepsi True, “a little more opportunity to gauge interest in whether or not stevia in cola is a viable alternative.”
As for Caleb’s Kola, Telford said that it’s become increasingly difficult to engage consumers, especially younger consumers, with mega brands. He lauded the Share a Coke campaign and the company’s push with glass bottles and Mexican Coke, which have been able to generate new interest in the Coca-Cola brand. But Caleb’s Kola has a difficult task ahead.
“It’s a little difficult to convey authenticity just because of that association with the Pepsi label,” he said. “It’s an open question as to how successful that will end up being.”
Schneiderman: Cut the Music, Monster
Picture Dean Wormer walking up to the biggest rager in Delta Tau Chi history. And he’s got Otter by the…tail.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has found what he believes to be evidence that Monster Energy’s marketing team encouraged underage drinking on college campuses, according to The New York Post.
Schneiderman has documents indicating that Monster directed members of its collegiate ambassador team to “throw rowdy parties and photograph the madness.” Documents also find that Monster attracted freshmen students to parties where Monster was used as a mixer and chaser for alcohol.
Monster said that the Attorney General’s brief was “filled with baseless rhetoric.”
Craft Soda Maker Bucks Category Trends
Natrona Bottling Company, a craft soda maker outside of Pittsburgh, doesn’t seem too concerned with the CSD category’s declines. Between 2010-2013, the company boosted sales by 60 percent — about $141,000 to about $225,000.
“Natrona has benefited from sticking to its craft,” writes TribLive in a company profile. “Red Ribbon soda has always been made with cane sugar, long before it became a niche trend. And the company’s master bottler, Steve Vokish, has gone about his work the same way he learned when he joined the company in 1975.”
It ain’t Shaolin Brew, but that hasn’t stopped Harlem-based rapper Jim Jones from launching his own soft drink. Vamp, a berry-flavored soda, will hit New York store shelves on Halloween, according to Vice.
“Everyone thought I was crazy when I started a reality show. Now everyone wants one,” Jones wrote in a press release. “Soda is ageless.”