Blogger and risk perception maven David Ropeik has impeccable timing and makes a truly smart point in his prophetic piece today about the health hazards of all kinds of sugary drinks (which he posted just hours before a New York judge struck down the city’s limits on big sugary sodas).Ropeik’s basic point is this: why are we so fixated on soda when other drinks contain as much if not more sugar? In other words, what about the juice?? On his Big Think blog, he writes:
Since too high a dose of either fructose or sucrose is bad for us, producing the same health outcomes, why are many of the We Know What’s Good For You Food Police focusing on just one of them? For a clue, check out this picture, currently making the rounds on the social net.
[The picture, which I won’t repost here, shows a sort of police lineup of bad actor drinks: Kool-Aid, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Chocolate Milk and the amount of sugar in a serving of each.]
The clue lies not in what the picture shows, but in what’s missing. Where is the orange juice, the grape juice, the apple juice, the cranberry juice, all of which may be more natural but which have as much as, or more total sugar per unit than any of the drinks shown?
Then, citing the USDA, he offers this alarming graphic (prune juice? who knew?) on the high sugar content of so many seemingly “natural” juices:
His overall message is one we should all heed:
This is just one more example of how the Risk Perception Gap – when we’re more afraid of some things than we need to be or less afraid of some things than we ought to be – can get us in trouble. So calling out the truth about the distorted focus on fructose is offered here in the hopes that government and industry approaches to the dangers of our sweet tooth can come closer to hitting the sweet spot of doing us the most good.
So why are we still feeling good about our kids’ fresh glass of OJ in the morning when we’d likely maim anyone who offers them a Coke?