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文章来源:国际部   点击数:   更新时间:2017-05-05

MARION NESTLE'S heavyweight polemic against Coca—Cola and PepsiCo comes at an oddmoment for the industry. Americans are drinking fewer sugary sodas—in 2012 production was23% below what it had been a decade earlier. Even sales of diet drinks are losing their fizz, asconsumers question the merits of artificial sweeteners. From one angle, it would seem thathealth advocates such as Ms Nestle have won. Yet in America companies still produce 30gallons of regular (not diet) fizzy drinks per person per year. In many countries, particularlydeveloping ones, consumption is on the rise.


Ms Nestle, a professor at New York University, is both heartened by recent progress anddissatisfied with it. That is no surprise. Her first book, “Food Politics” (2002), remains a biblefor those who bewail the power of food companies. In her new book she attacks the industry'smost widely consumed, least healthy product. “Soda Politics”, she says, is a book “to inspirereaders to action”. As a rallying cry, it is verbose. When readers learn on page 238 that she willpick up a particular subject in chapter 25, it is with no little dismay that they realise they areonly on chapter 17. But what the author wants most is to craft a meticulous guide to theproducers' alleged transgressions, and how to stop them.


Ms Nestle says she would have no quibbles with sweet fizzy drinks if they were sippedoccasionally, as a treat. However, for millions of people in many countries, they are not. InMexico companies sold 372 cans of fizzy drinks per person in 2012. About half of Americans donot drink them regularly, but those who do are disproportionately poor, less educated, male,Hispanic or black. Ten per cent of Americans down more than four cans a day.


Drinking a lot of sweet fizzy drinks is plainly unhealthy. Unlike a Big Mac, they have nonutritional value; nor do their calories satisfy hunger. One large study found that for each canadded to a person's daily diet, the risk of diabetes jumped by 22%. There are also linksbetween sugar and heart disease, stroke and cancer. Drinking lots of sodas imposes clear costson individuals, Ms Nestle argues, but it has a broader cost, too. American taxpayers subsidisecorn production (and thereby corn syrup) and let the poor use government food vouchers tobuy fizzy drinks. More important, taxpayers foot the health bill for those who develop chronicdisease.


Encouraging people to drink fewer fizzy drinks, however, is fiendishly difficult. Soda companiesspend billions on marketing; it is a tribute to the admen that Coca—Cola is one of the world'sbest—loved brands, despite selling what is essentially fattening sugar—water. (Think of Coca—Cola's encouragements to “open happiness” and PepsiCo's exuberant spokeswoman, BeyoncéKnowles.) Once people get used to consuming sugary drinks, they are loth to give them up.There is evidence suggesting that sugar is addictive—some laboratory animals prefer sugar tococaine.


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