Pop's sudden thirst for approval
Dump Soft Drinks Campaign is launched in Japan
Don’t drink too many soft drinks!
Recently, obesity and other lifestyle related diseases among adults have become an issue in Japan. However, these problems are not only of concern to adults, but to children as well. Diet and lifestyle choices in childhood are closely related to obesity and diet-related disease later in life.
In Japan, the child obesity rate is still low, compared to that of other developed countries such as United States. However, the rate is increasing gradually. According to “Health Statistics for school children” issued by the Ministry of Education, the child obesity rate was 10.4% in 2005. This is 1.5 times higher than the rate in 1977.
One of the factors behind the rise in obesity is increased consumption of sugary foods and drinks. To combat this issue, the Global Dump Soft Drink Campaign was launched in December 10, 2007. The Japan Offspring Fund participated in the launch by sending letters to the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labor and the Ministry of Education, as well as Coca-Cola, demanding better regulation of soft drink marketing, especially to children.
Soft Drinks for Enlarging Bust Size?
A series of soft drinks, named “Okkikunare” have sold well amongst Japanese teenagers on the basis that they can enhancer breast size. "Okkikunare"means “make them bigger!” The drink, manufactured by the Blue Coin Company, comes in three flavors: apple, peach and mango, and costs about 200Yen (equivalent to about $2US).
These drinks are popular with teenage girls who are vulnerable to the implied marketing message that the drinks can help increase breast size. The drinks include an ingredient called powdered arrowroot, which has an isoflavone content similar to soybeans. While some studies show that isoflavones can stimulate the female hormone system, there has been no evidence that these drinks can actually enhance breast size.
The drinks are not particularly high in calories (they range from 30 to 39 kcal per serving), but are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and can contribute to overweight and obesity if consumed in large amounts.
The company is careful not to claim expressly on the label that the drinks can enlarge breast size as such claims are illegal under regulations established by government health agencies. The company has also avoided making health claims on its www homepage. However, a variety of well-known magazines have written about these drinks as being catalysts for breast enhancement, and have used the testimonials of famous actresses to market the beverages to young women. The Japan Offspring Fund, publisher of Safety in Our Foods and Life, has reported in their March 2008 newsletter that it is certainly possible that the Blue Coin Company may have hired public relations companies to facilitate the publication of these articles.
Japanese teens should think carefully before spending money on soft drinks promoted on the basis of absurd health benefits. And consumers around the world should take note; The so called “functional food” trend first started in Japan years ago. It may not be too long before “Okkikunare” drinks find their way to the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and other parts of Asia.
Consumers Demand End to Use of Sodium Benzoate in Soft Drinks
(Click thumbnails above for full-size version)
More information on ending Sodium Benzoate use in soft drinks in the United States
SODIUM BENZOATE, BENZOIC ACID
Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate (and its close relative benzoic acid) for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. They appear to be safe for most people, though they cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. In children, sodium benzoate may adversely affect behavior (especially in children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder).
Another problem occurs when sodium benzoate is used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The two substances, in an acidic solution, can react together to form small amounts of benzene, a chemical that causes leukemia and other cancers. Though the amounts of benzene that form are small, leading to only a very small risk of cancer, there is no reason why consumers should be exposed to any risk. In the early 1990s the FDA had urged companies not to use benzoate in products that also contain ascorbic acid, but in the 2000s companies were still using that combination. A lawsuit filed in 2006 by private attorneys ultimately forced Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other soft-drink makers in the U.S. to reformulate affected beverages, typically fruit-flavored products.
Global Dump Soft Drinks Campaign Launched in Sweden (MS Word)