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Center for Science in the Public Interest caught red-handed

AEI research assistant Phil Wallach writes, catching the Center for Science in the Public Interest red-handed, if not red-faced:

On Monday CSPI came out with this press release, saying that a new study from Pediatrics shows again how bad soda is for adolescents, and asserting:
�If the soft drink industry had any respect for children's health, it would extend its recent pull-out from elementary schools and remove soda, "sports" drinks, and other high-calorie beverages from middle and high schools.�

But uh-oh! A quick look at the abstract of the Pediatrics study (not cited specifically in the CSPI press release) describes its methodology:

�We randomly assigned 103 adolescents aged 13 to 18 years who regularly consumed SSBs to intervention and control groups. The intervention, 25 weeks in duration, relied largely on home deliveries of noncaloric beverages to displace SSBs and thereby decrease consumption. Change in SSB consumption was the main process measure, and change in body mass index (BMI) was the primary end point.�

It also notes that:

�All of the randomly assigned subjects completed the study. Consumption of SSBs decreased by 82% in the intervention group and did not change in the control group.�

That means that the students in the intervention group still had access to sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages at school, and indeed that their consumption was not reduced to zero. So the beneficial effect of the intervention on weight gain was due to intervention at home. The contribution of soda at school, in other words, is almost certainly marginal. This fact should make it clear how strange it is to attempt to hold schools primarily responsible for obesity in children, as CSPI would like to do in this threatened Massachusetts suit. But when you are waging a war as noble as CSPI�s against soda, you can�t be troubled by particulars.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.