Musings

“Pouring on the Pounds” Campaign

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday as I caught a TV ad sponsored by the New York Health Department. The campaign has a gruesomely powerful visual image — a bottle of soda, sweetened ice tea or sports drink that morphs into a blob of fat. The campaign is designed to encourage New Yorkers to rethink their drink and choose beverages with less sugar.

With drinks becoming supersized and 20-ounce bottles the norm, a single sweetened beverage—like a cola or iced white mocha can bring with it 13-16 teaspoons of sugar and 250 to 340 calories. Yikes!

I’m wondering if New Yorkers will take notice of this campaign and if it will be the impetus for change in consumers’ behavior. Will this spread across the country— with other cities taking up similar campaigns? Will we see more parents and PTA’s demanding changes in cafeterias and vending machines? Might we see cities across America sponsor “biggest loser” events?

But perhaps the big beverage companies will do more to beef up their “healthy” beverage portfolios. They all have their share of bottled waters and zero calorie, zero sugar or low sugar offerings. It seems that there’s great opportunity for innovation in developing more good tasting, mouth satisfying, thirst quenching beverages, without all the sugar.

For example, in my visit to the NY Fancy Foods Show this summer, I was impressed by the small companies that had created various fruit, herb and spice flavored waters–still and sparkling waters with coconut, cinnamon, coriander, other uncommon flavors. Some were unsweetened, others contained agave. Many of the products I sampled were delicious — the fragrant aromas fooled the palate and made up for the lack of sweetener.

What’s going to happen in the beverage world? This is a story that I think will be an interesting one to watch!

You can read more at NYC.gov Web site at

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2009/pr057-09.shtml

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