Soft-drink group responds to Purdue sweetener study

WASHINGTON: The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) has decided to take the communications offensive against a study from Purdue University claiming that artificial sweeteners can disrupt a body's ability to know how many calories it consumes.

WASHINGTON: The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) has decided to take the communications offensive against a study from Purdue University claiming that artificial sweeteners can disrupt a body's ability to know how many calories it consumes.

News of the Purdue study broke June 29 upon publication of an article about it in the July issue of the International Journal of Obesity.

The NSDA issued a release the next day, saying, "The Purdue University rat studies amounted to pure speculation and are in sharp contrast with the findings of a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies."

The NSDA release went on to quote other studies that found using the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is in most diet soft drinks, correlated positively with weight loss. The association also questioned the methodology of the Purdue study.

Kathleen Dezio, VP of communications with the association, said it does not respond to every claim about soft drinks, but felt the Purdue research team had enough media credibility that a response was necessary.

The soft-drink industry has been a target of those who say Americans are overweight because of the food and beverage products being sold to them by manufacturers and restaurants.

Speaking of media coverage of obesity, Dezio said: "There's a hyper-sensitivity to this issue. In that sort of frenzy, it's important to have a reasoned debate. We try very hard when an issue arises concerning our products that involves science to put out the full picture."

While initial coverage of the Purdue research didn't include the NSDA's position, subsequent coverage has, Dezio said.

Purdue's study, by professor Terry Davidson and associate professor Susan Swithers, got widespread global coverage.

The university declined to respond to the NSDA's criticism of the study.

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