By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only


On Sunday evening (2/10/01), CBS Sixty Minutes reported that
America's teenagers were suffering from an obesity epidemic
because of fast foods, and focused upon one element in
particular, soda.

Morley Safer reported that the consumption of fast food
directly parallels the rise in childhood obesity over the
past 20 years.

Unfortunately, 60 Minutes brings a bias to your television
screen. To your living room. To your refrigerators. To your

Two other factors have more than doubled in the past twenty
years, but 60 Minutes will not be investigating their role
in the obesity epidemic. Got Milk ads. Pizza ads. Ice cream
ads. Television relies upon cheese. Without Pizza Hut and
Domino's commercials, where would 60 Minutes be? As
television ads for cheese increase, so too does cheese
consumption. So too does obesity.

Why did 60 Minutes focus upon soda? The dairy industry told
them to, that's why. Last year, the dairy industry began a
marketing effort that blamed obesity on soda.

What area of food consumption has actually tripled in the
past thirty years? Soda consumption? No way. It's cheese

During the 1970s, the average American consumed ten pounds
of cheese per year. Today, the average American consumes
more than thirty pounds of cheese per year. Twenty more

Last year, the dairy industry placed an advertisement in
American newspapers reporting:

"Everyone knows today's kids are fatter than they used to
be, and one of the big culprits is soft drinks. The average
teen-ager drinks 868 cans of soda a year, according to the
American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Mid East. That
represents a bunch of empty calories -about 122,000 - and no
small chunk of change ($434 at 50 cents a pop). Meanwhile,
milk consumption has dropped precipitously - 23% between
1970 and 1997 - at a time when teens are in critical bone
building years. Only 21 percent of Ohio high school students
drink three or more glasses of milk each day. Kids can drink
milk and stay slim; an 8-ounce glass of fat-free skim milk
contains only 80 calories."

Do these same kids go to Dominos Pizza and order the low-fat
skim milk pizza? Do they get the 1% milkshake from Dairy
Queen? Do they request the no-fat cheese on their Big Macs?

Dairy public relations firms compare 1970 to 1997. Soda
consumption has actually decreased. Consumers are drinking
more bottled water, iced teas, and juices. Their "empty"
122,000 calories add up to just 334 calories per day. Kids
normally eat over 2000 calories per day, and that is
metabolized. What CHANGE have we witnessed in our S.A.D.
diets (Standard American Diets) between 1970 and the year

Imagine ten pounds of saturated fat on the belly of an obese
child. Picture something the size of a watermelon---ten
pounds of greasy yellow high caloric fat. That's the
equivalent amount of fat consumed by the average American
each year from just cheese. This does not factor in the
dangerous heart-unhealthy saturated fat from ice cream,
butter, or liquid milk.

There is no saturated fat in soda. There's not a bit of fat
at all in a can of Coke.

One pound of Wisconsin's finest cheddar contains 1824
calories, and 115 grams of fat. Ten pounds of cheese
contains 1150 grams of fat, or 3.15 pounds, a greasy-blob of
fat globules the size of one large honeydew or two small
cantaloupes. That represents America's 1970 consumption. You
can more than triple that for today.

We had no obesity epidemic in 1970 when children were
consuming more soda than they do today. The one factor in
our diets that has increased dramatically is cheese

The dairy industry would have you believe that soda is to
blame. They market their high calorie fat-saturated hormone-
filled product and ask you to "Behold the Power of Cheese."

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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