ABA responds to diabetes-sugary beverages link in health journal

WASHINGTON and WINSTON-SALEM, NC: Soft drink and donut makers are responding to another wave of accusations about their role in the obesity epidemic.

WASHINGTON and WINSTON-SALEM, NC: Soft drink and donut makers are responding to another wave of accusations about their role in the obesity epidemic.

A study linking obesity and diabetes to sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juice has elicited a swift response from a beverage trade group, and virtually none from the manufacturers themselves.

"It is scientifically indefensible to blame any one food or beverage for increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, a disease which is commonly known to have multiple causes and risk factors," the American Beverage Association stated in a press release on Tuesday.

The group has also made its policy directors available to comment on the study, which appeared Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Representatives from both Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. referred all media calls to the beverage group and said there will be no further response.

This is hardly the first time the industry has been criticized.

But at Krispy Kreme, the PR department was caught by surprise when a decade-old promotional program received a wave of media attention.

The program rewards free donuts for good grades.

Krispy Kreme, which handles the promotion in-house, also worked with its internal PR staff to respond to reporters, said Amy Hughes, corporate communications director.

"This came out of the blue," she said. "It's just what we do to be part of the community. It's not something that we've ever been concerned about."

Hughes noted that the Palm Beach County program is one of many nationwide.

Vikki Middlebrooks, a public affairs specialist for the Palm Beach County School District, noted the story originated when a Palm Beach Post reporter contrasted the Krispy Kreme promotion with the district's nutrition program.

Dozens of newspapers ran The Associated Press wire story on the controversy.

"We're not oblivious to the dietary concerns that exist in this country today," Hughes said, adding that Krispy Kreme has stuck to its message in its response to the media. "We always say that it's an indulgence that can be enjoyed responsibly."

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