Gill Stannard

Monday, April 06, 2009

Hey, its just water

When we add words like “vitamin” or even the name of antioxidant containing fruit to the name of a drink, most of us would think it implies a certain healthfulness making it a better choice than plain old H2O or soft drinks.

Recently consumer advocates “Choice” challenged the claims made by the makers of “Vitaminwater” and the like, in a complaint to the ACC. The thrust of the claim was around the "explicit and implied" claims about its fruit content and nutritional benefits.

While the ACC sided with Coca-cola, the makers of Vitaminwater (the same company that tried, but failed to get away with a recent marketing campaign using a popular actress to say that the brown fizzy stuff isn’t bad for kid’s teeth or waistlines) in a backhanded way they accepted that the health claims were not as they seemed.

“The colour, taste and smell of one product, Vitaminwater, would cause any ordinary consumer to suspect the drink contained sugar, the commission stated in a letter to Choice.”


In other words, the ACC implied that the public is not gullible enough to be duped by health promotions implicit in the branding. Which makes me wonder why we even pretend to have fair advertising standards, if a company can be excused on the grounds that only a fool would accept their claims.

While Coca-cola has slipped through the net once more in Australia, the same product is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit in the USA regarding their nutritional claims.

The irony of the situation is both the ACC and Coca-Cola’s defense is based on the intelligence of a public who reads less and weighs more. The ACC suggested the mere smell and taste of the drink was enough to alert you to the lack of fruit and abundance of sugar. Coke on the other hand rests its case on their being sufficient nutritional information (in a smaller font) on the bottle, giving the consumer sufficient information as to the true kilojoule content.

The facts about enhanced waters

Fruit: Many of the fruity flavourings are not what they seem.

There is no actual kiwi fruit or strawberries in the drinks of these flavours.

In the cases where actual fruit products were present, the maximum any bottle any bottle contained was a mere 1% fruit juice.

Sugar: All products contained significant amounts of added sugar.

Coke’s Vitaminwater contains 6.5 teaspoons of sugar (per bottle).
Nutrient Water 7 teaspoons.
Smart Water 8 teaspoons.
A can of coke, by comparison, contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

The take home message is don’t be conned, if it’s colourful and sweet it is not water. If you think your diet is inadequate, get some help to improve the way you eat and consider a short course of nutritional supplements at a medicinal dose to improve any real deficiency.

And when you are thirsty, drink water.

1 comment:

Bwca Brownie said...

All true, dear Health Tripper,
frustratingly, the under-read over-weight water consumers here, are no sillier than all the smokers you know who have Doctorates, or all the Doctors you know who smoke in the face of more widely disseminated information on why they should not.

And do add the dentist's warnings against sugared drinks creating that enamel-dissolving environment in mouths where the teeth are.

Whole industries are reliant of course, on dumb people doing dumb things. Consider all the unemployed cops, if each and every one of us was totally honest and law-abiding.

*hobbles away to assume lotus position and block out the horror with a mantra ... ooommmm ooooommmm*