The public nowadays gets bombarded with the "study-of-the-day" telling them how to behave or what to eat or drink. What can be frustrating is when these studies contradict each other. One day a glass of red wine is good; then next day it's not. One day chocolate is good; the next day it'll just make you fat. And coffee and caffeine, well these constantly contradicting studies probably just have folks' heads spinning.
Unfortunately, all of this makes it difficult for the public to know what to believe and what to trust. And the inconsistencies are often due to some researchers creating a hypothesis, developing a research methodology that's most likely to get them the results "they want," and then picking the data that supports their hypothesis, while ignoring the data that doesn't.
There were a couple more doozies this week, pertaining to our products.
First, Walter Willett at the Harvard School of Public Health put out a press release (you have to love the science-by-press-release of today; adds even more to public cynicism) Monday calling for a new category of reduced-calorie beverages.
Well, Team Harvard, our industry already makes a plethora of reduced-calorie beverages, including functional/enhanced water beverages (Life Water, Vitamin Water, et al), sports drinks, various ready-to-drink teas, and more. And this is not to mention the entire diet beverage category, which the researchers decided to just dismiss outright.
These researchers also called for lower-calorie, smaller-size beverages in schools. Certainly some research would have taken them to our highly-publicized School Beverage Guidelines, which our industry created with the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association. These are calorie-based guidelines that are providing lower-calorie and smaller-portion products in our schools, not to mention the removal of our full-calorie sodas from the schools. Our companies already have implemented these changes in 80 percent of schools with which we have contracts.
So a trip to the local grocery store beverage aisle and the local high school solves this manufactured conundrum. Team Willett will find exactly what they're looking for, as most of our consumers already know judging by the good sales of our reduced-calorie products and the parental approval of our school beverage policy.
Then, later this week, Dr. Mark Wolff of the New York University College of Dentistry continued pushing out his press release on sports drinks and their impact on teeth. Now, this release was a bit more constructive in tone and intent - at least how we read it anyway.
But its assertions have some cavities of their own - mainly regarding prolonged sipping of sports drinks.
Well, most people who drink sports drinks don't sip them and certainly don't sip them "over the course of the day," as the good doctor suggests. Typically, sports drinks are consumed quickly - usually by an athlete or person engaged in physical activity who is thirsty and trying to rehydrate.
Interestingly, this research team conducted its work by taking cow's teeth, cutting them in half and then immersing the cow's teeth in a sports drink for 75-90 minutes. Again, the typical consumer isn't going to hold a sports drink it his or her mouth for a measurable length of time (certainly not 75-90 minutes). They're thirsty and are trying to get rehydrated quickly; thus they're going to get that fluid into their body as fast as possible. After all, it's a sports drink, not mouthwash.
Though, we do agree with Dr. Wolff on his call for drinking the beverage in moderation, as we believe all foods and beverages should be consumed in moderation. And the good doctor probably offers some sound advice on brushing your teeth - which obviously we all should be doing regularly. Just as our industry supports regular physical activity to keep your body fit, we encourage practicing good oral hygiene, with regular trips to the dentist, to keep your mouth and teeth healthy.
Anyway, more good examples of why the public today need to be good consumers of science - apply your common sense, question what doesn't make sense and be wary of those researchers with clear biases or agendas.