This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Barry Popkin's Take on Sugary Drinks--Don't!

More than anyone else, Barry Popkin at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, brought us the concept of the nutrition transition. You'll find a discussion in Chapter 5 of my text. Modern society is transitioning away from real food and drink to processed food and drink, and the addition of sugar is a big part of the processing in both food and drink. But especially the latter. Popkin, whose doctorate is in Economics, does not just talk about this, however. He does something about. As he discusses in this Lancet podcast, he and his colleagues have helped Mexico design a tax on sugary drinks and they are studying its impact. There are also some big changes taking place in the marketing of sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods in Chile. Latin America is second in these problems behind the US, the UK, and Australia and New Zealand largely because the sugary drink people have been in Latin America longer than in Asia or Africa. 

Like most people, I have a sweet tooth. So does my German Shepherd. But we all have to watch it. My wife and I grew up in a world where we drank water and milk (and fruit juice) at home and that's what was on offer at schools. As Popkin points out in the podcast, that all changed starting in the 1980s. I've been to the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta (and there's one in Las Vegas, too), but our health requires that we keep those sugary drinks in perspective. Indeed, from my perspective, the best drink that Coca-Cola makes around the world is clean water. Before I leave the US I always check to see the name of the brand of water that Coke processes in the country to which I'm headed. Unfortunately, that's not what the company is famous for.

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