Nutrition News: Naked Juice Is Sued, Junk Food Is Jettisoned and Big Soda Displays Strange Behavior

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Duped by Juice

When you reach for a Naked Juice, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. After all, its label promises “goodness inside.” But, in a class-action lawsuit filed last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has accused Naked Juice parent company PepsiCo of misleading consumers by suggesting that the fruit and veggie juices are primarily filled with ultra-healthy “acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango,” when in reality the product lines’ chief ingredients are orange juice or “cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice.”

CSPI contends the juices’ “no sugar added” claim is misleading as well, suggesting that the juices’ sugar content is low, when actually it’s quite high — nearly as much per bottle as a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. It also accuses PepsiCo of flouting Food and Drug Administration regulations by failing to not make clear that the drinks are “not a low-calorie food.” Consumers, CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said, are “not getting what they paid for.” PepsiCo has called the allegations in the suit “baseless.”

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Big Soda’s Split Personality

Speaking of sugary drinks, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo underwrote the work of 96 U.S. health and medical organizations, such as the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2011 and 2015, according to a new study by researchers at Boston University cited by the Washington Post. Given that sugary drinks like sodas have come under fire for their negative effects on our health, having been linked to obesity and other issues, the disclosure of the widespread sponsorships have raised concerns.

“Most organizations refuse tobacco money,” the study authors wrote, according to the Post. “Perhaps soda companies should be treated similarly.” Curiously, even as the companies were funding public health research they were lobbying against proposed governmental efforts to reduce soda consumption in the name of public health.

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Junk Food … Jettisoned

Eating healthier doesn’t have to cost more. That’s one takeaway from a review of food subsidy programs like Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (aka WIC) following a move by the Department of Agriculture to encourage those in the program to make healthier food choices without boosting the program’s budget. According to the New York Times, starting in 2009, the department gave participants vouchers for fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods, and it limited the purchases of milk, cheese and juice.

People had to use their own money for foods the department considered non-healthy. Guess what? The consumption of things like sugary beverages plummeted by almost 25 percent, whereas the consumption of fruits, veggies and whole grains rose by 5 percent. Tatiana Andreyeva, of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, told the Times the program prompted healthier eating. And it “didn’t cost us any extra money,” she said.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.