Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pie 5, Coke 0

Spotted at the new Dobbin Center restaurant pie five:

Strategically placed by the check-out, this eye-catching sign is a slick way to shame people out of the old tap water habit. Tap water is boring--you don't want to be boring, do you?

I wonder what the folks at HoCo Unsweetened would think of that?

Sugary soda (and other high-sugar beverages) and the frequency with which the typical American is drinking them continue to be a huge public health challenge. The movement to address the long-term consequences of the SSB (sugar-sweetened beverage) habit is bigger than initiatives in our own little bubble. A statement from the Baltimore City Health Department includes these words:

Studies have shown that beverage companies disproportionately market their sugary drinks to low-income communities that are already hardest hit by health disparities and have the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease. The consumption of SSBs is increasing rampant inequities, speeding our most vulnerable children toward poor health and shortened life spans.

The statement, urging warning labels on SSB's, makes it clear that BCHD views this not only as a Public Health issue, but as taking a step towards remediating a social injustice.

In Philadelphia the City Council recently approved a 1.5 cent tax per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages.

The American Beverage Association has spent nearly $5 million on advertising against the tax. A nonprofit created to support the mayor's initiatives spent just over $2 million, according to its spokesman, $1.6 million of it from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

That's a lot of money.

Back to the sign. What struck me about it, aside from the health aspect, was the money involved. Let's be honest. This sign might as well read:

Tap water is Free. These alternatives, made by us, cost money. If you drink tap water, we lose. Spend your money.

That's the job of merchandising, after all. To get you to part with your hard-earned money. There's no law against that. And it's also true that there may be a few sugar-free, relatively chemical-free choices in the "Freestyle" machine. But something about this sign just got my goat: spend more money, quite possibly undermine your health. But you won't be boring.

A foot-note, albeit an important one. We loved pie five and we'll definitely being going back. We liked our pizzas and the service was excellent.




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