Soft-drink boycott simplistic reaction to complex problem

Letter to the editor

October 31, 2011

In an effort focused on grabbing headlines, County Executive Ken Ulman recently called for a 30-day boycott of soft drinks, completely missing an opportunity to educate and talk to the public about real solutions for addressing obesity.

Now more than ever the commitment of Maryland's beverage industry to do our part is shining through. Our member companies are cutting the calories available from beverages in the marketplace. In fact, the total amount of beverage calories available in the marketplace decreased by 21 percent from 1998 to 2008.

We have successfully changed the landscape in schools across Maryland by cutting beverage calories by 88 percent with our School Beverage Guidelines. And you may have noticed when grocery shopping that our member companies are adding new calorie labels to the front of every can, bottle and pack we produce.

We are proud to be delivering on our part as a job-providing member of the community here in Maryland. Mr. Ulman's efforts would be better served by recognizing that obesity is a complex and serious issue that requires comprehensive solutions. It's initiatives like ours that will have a lasting impact on our communities, and one that is far greater than any taxes, bans or boycotts.

Ellen Valentino

Annapolis

Ellen Valentino is executive vice president of the MD-DE-DC Beverage Association.

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