Thursday, January 10, 2008

Huge-oh Hugo

Experts are coming to the conclusion that the worst culprits in the obesity and health crisis in the united states are high calorie- HFCS- and high sugar beverages. From sports drinks, to caramel machiattos, to the good ole stand-by a HUGE coke- we are drinking ourselves into xxxl sizes.

The HUGO is a 42 oz soda for 89cents and is a great example of what is wrong, in so many ways.

First off, portion distortion. Americans no longer have any sense of moderation on portions. Those cute little 8oz glass bottles of coke, or even the simple 12oz cans are a thing of the past-- We now need 42oz mega drinks and WOW, look! They are cheap too!

Another evil in the very nature of the Hugo is that it was marketed to lower income neighborhoods, even to the extent that the hugo pr was first targeted in spainish to low income minority communities in California and in the south. Cheap and Huge!

How huge? One Hugo soda contains about 410 calories!

Most nutrionists agree a healthy daily calorie intake should be between 1500-2000 calories (depending on your age, body type, and your level of exercise activity.)

One Hugo is 20-25% of your recommended calories for a whole day!

According to an article last summer in the NYT, Nutrionist (and my hero) Marion Nestle said

When McDonald’s opened in 1955 the largest soda was 7 fluid ounces, according to Ms. Nestle and Ms. Young. Now a small soda is 16 ounces, and a child’s soda is 12 ounces. And what was once considered a normal adult meal is now a child’s portion. A patty the same size as the original McDonald’s hamburger and a serving of French fries, for instance, is now offered to children as part of the Happy Meal, Ms. Young said.

According to the Jounral of the American Medical Association

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks contribute 7.1% of total energy intake and represent the largest single food source of calories in the US diet. Coincidentally or not, the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States parallels the increase in sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption. Several studies have found an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of obesity in children. In one study, the odds ratio of becoming obese increased 1.6 times for each additional sugar-sweetened drink consumed every day.

A big culprit in Kid's weight and health issues is the rise of the Sports Drink. Loaded with sugar, but marketed as a cure for dehydration and use for sports and energy, the sports drinks have been gaining in popularity and portion size in recent years. had a good take on these sugary sports drinks;

Some public health advocates are pushing for a ban on the sales of sports drinks and flavored waters in schools in order to decrease obesity in children. The University of California at Berkeley warns "that students who drink one 20-ounce sports drink every day for a year can gain about 13 pounds!" These beverages contain the same amount of high fructose corn syrup as soft drinks and artificial food colorings, preservatives, and unneeded sodium.

Cokes are my big downfall, I drink way too much.

Most medical experts agree the real danger of high calorie beverages is that it is too easy to be unaware and unthinking in your consumption. The first key to breaking the hold of high calorie beverages is being deliberate, knowing what you are eating and drinking and what those choices mean. Certainly pressure should be brought to bear to end the direct marketing of these drinks to our kids in school. And as for the Hugo? In 2004 after "Super Size Me" McDonalds ended their super-obesity-sized menus- if you see the Hugo at your local golden arches, it might be a good idea to write to the company, or your local paper and remind Mickey-d's that they were on the right track in '04 and that they should not start back-sliding now.

Our kid's lives may depend on it.