Dr. Foreyt says Coke adds 'balance and variety and moderation' to diet
As the 10th International Congress on Obesity commences this week in Sydney, Australia, the nearly 3,000 health experts participating are trying to figure out why obesity rates have gotten completely out of control worldwide. This meeting of the minds, which happens every four years, is supposed to help bring about changes that would start to bring obesity rates down (ironically, though, since the first meeting in 1970, obesity has exploded to astronomical rates in virtually every country in the world with no sign of slowing down anytime soon).
One of the people attending this year's obesity conference is Dr. John Foreyt, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Houston, TX-based Baylor College of Medicine, whose role there is to convince attendees that sugary soft drinks such as Coca-Cola are not responsible for making people get fat. That's right, the Coca-Cola company has actually paid Dr. Foreyt to attend this event on their behalf to plead the case that soft drinks are not the reason for obesity.
In a radio segment on ABC Australia's "The World Today", Dr. Foreyt explained why he believes the criticisms of products like Coke are unwarranted and that sugary soft drinks have become an unfair target and scapegoat in the obesity debate.
"I think the answer to really looking at a healthy lifestyle is balance and variety and moderation, and any time you pick out a single culprit you're going to really be in trouble, because, you know, obesity and health risks are all associated with multiple factors," Dr. Foreyt told ABC.
While I agree that there are many different reasons for obesity, that doesn't give companies like Coca-Cola a free pass on their distinct role in making the problem even worse with their products. Dr. Foreyt is making the argument that drinking sugary Coke is indeed a part of a healthy diet when he states that it is all about "balance and variety and moderation."
But the reality is there is no room for the excessive amounts of sugar, in the form of the absolute worst food ingredient ever invented--high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), that they put in Coca-Cola to be consumed by most people. The idea that drinking Coke to "balance" your diet and then expecting people to eat in "moderation" (can you say calorie-restricted portion control diets that may be unhealthy and ineffective for many?) is just more of the same old garbage and meaningless dietary advice we've always heard.
When is somebody going to muster up the guts to say sugar is NOT a part of a healthy lifestyle because your body doesn't need it?! When I weighed over 400 pounds before I started livin' la vida low-carb in 2004, I was drinking Coke like it was going out of style. In fact, it got to the point that I was mindlessly drinking about 16 Coca-Colas A DAY! EEEEK! I know, I know, that was pretty stupid on my part. But my story is probably not all that uncommon among the obese.
For people like Dr. Foreyt whose job is to analyze human behavior, I wonder if he can adequately explain why people guzzle so much Coke that it makes them fat. Oh, but wait, he's got an answer that explains why you can't point the finger at the Coke for people consuming too many calories.
"Well, calories are calories are calories, so you want to look at balance, and if people are getting their calories from one source, too many calories, people can get in trouble, but that caloric source can be anything," he exclaimed to ABC. "So you really have to look at your overall diet. I think that's still the bottom line."
Oh, now this is getting good. So, Dr. Foreyt is saying that as long as you are counting the calories consumed in those cans of Coke and keep the number low enough to induce weight loss or weight maintenance, then you should be okay in terms of controlling your weight. Does he think we're a bunch of morons or what?
The calories consumed in a can of Coca-Cola have no nutritional value whatsoever, Dr. Foreyt. Even in these ridiculous 100-calorie foods that are on store shelves today (like the Coke can at the top of this blog post), the idea that people have the ability to control themselves enough to only drink one or two of these pint-sized overpriced sodas is irrational. If the overweight and obese had the innate ability to control their calorie intake, then they wouldn't be dealing with a weight problem in the first place, would they?
Furthermore, if "calories are calories are calories" is so true, then why don't we hear the same kind of message regarding eating high amounts of fruits, vegetables, juice, rice, pasta, bread and other high-carb foods which can pack a lot of calories, too? If it's truly all about calories, then what makes these food widgets any different from the calories in Coca-Cola? Hmmm?
When I started the Atkins diet in January 2004, I did not suddenly begin counting calories. Nearly three years later, I still haven't and yet my weight has remained stable. How could this be? Well, for one thing, I stopped drinking those 16 sugary Cokes I used to drink per day and replaced them with tons of water and diet soda. Permanently distancing myself from the devastating effects of sugar on my body has been undoubtedly one of the best things I could have done not only for my weight, but also my overall health.
This is a cold hard fact that is completely lost on these "experts" like Dr. Foreyt who are too closely tied to companies like Coca-Cola and the big bucks they flash to anyone gullible enough to become an apologist for their sugar-loaded products. Sugar IS responsible for obesity in a lot of people and that extends well beyond soft drinks. Candy makers, doughnut shops, bakeries--the list goes on and on--all bear some responsibility along with soda companies to warn people about the negative impact overconsumption of their products will have on their weight and health. But there are just too many interest groups involved for that to ever be allowed to happen.
When Dr. Foreyt was asked about how his links to Coca-Cola might be skewing his conclusions about the high-sugar products he is endorsing as part of a healthy lifestyle, he responded with incredulous laughter.
"Oh, absolutely not," he retorted to ABC. "No, No. I think the bottom line for most people, they're very reasonable, they have good judgment and common sense, which means balance and variety and moderation in all things, including diet and physical activity."
Nobody else is laughing, Dr. Foreyt. We're not buying anything you are saying about this because it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. While I am not one of the fanatics calling for warning labels to be put on soda cans, I don't think anyone with any semblance of credibility can say with a straight face that drinking Coca-Cola or any other soft drink with upwards of 50g of sugar per 8-ounce serving can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. IT IS NOT and saying otherwise is the most ludicrous and damaging thing you could do to a world dealing with an obesity epidemic. Shame on you, Dr. Foreyt! SHAME ON YOU!
You can e-mail Dr. John Foreyt your thoughts about his support for Coke consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9-4-06 UPDATE: Fellow health advocate and weight loss success Julia Havey writes about this subject in an article at LowCarbNewsline.com today.