Rec. BAR's addition of Pepsi, Mountain Dew products raises some eyebrows

The drinks were added to the BAR to fill increased demand over weekends.

After sweating it out during a good workout, MU Student Recreation Complex users can head to the BAR to refuel with energy bars, protein shakes and, its newest offering, Pepsi products.

Although bottles of Pepsi and Mountain Dew had already been available at vending machines throughout the Rec. Center, the BAR, located inside the Jungle Gym area, began selling them this summer, Recreaction Center spokeswoman Emily Bach said.

Rec Center assistant business manager Doug Boyer said the complex added the products due to demand for carbonated drinks over the weekends.

“We noticed that during busy weekends, the Coke vending machines would be out,” he said in an email. “We added the Pepsi products to help fill the members’ or guests’ need if it arose.”

Boyer said sales for the products were “minimal,” with many sales coming from visitors.

“We have sold to prospective students’ parents during tours and other guests at times,” he said.

The high sugar content of the drinks leads to the question of whether it is appropriate to offer such drinks at a center where the goal is improving fitness. According to a CBS News article published in September, an increase in consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to the nationwide increase in obesity and related weight-gain issues acknowledged by the Center for Disease Control.

Wellness Resource Center dietitian Heidi Williams said soda poses a weight gain risk to consumers unaware of their nutritional content.

“Soft drinks are usually full of sugar, and there’s not much nutritional value to them,” she said. “A lot of time, people forget that there are calories in soda, and that leads to an increase in weight gains for individuals.”

A 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi contains 250 calories, 69 grams of sugar and 69 grams of carbohydrates, according to PepsiCo’s website. A bottle of Mountain Dew has 290 calories, 77 grams of sugars and 77 grams of carbs.

On Sept. 26, the MizzouRec Facebook page posted an advertisement touting the drinks as a way for tired patrons to increase energy levels.

“If you’re having a hard time getting going this Monday morning, remember that we now sell Pepsi and Mountain Dew products at the BAR in the Jungle Gym, in addition to the wide selection of energy snacks, protein shakes, and Gatorade products,” the post stated.

Williams questioned the effectiveness of soda as an exercise aid.

“Exercise should be your jump start to the morning, not some sort of substance,” she said. “The caffeine is coming straight from sugar. I would rather see somebody have a healthy meal full of complex carbohydrates to give you that energy for your workout so you’re able to make it through the day.”

Boyer said soft drinks might not be the answer for Rec Center users.

“I would assume that if sugary drinks are contradictory to a specific workout, it wouldn’t fit that need,” he said.

Exercisers might be better off focusing on getting more sleep rather than relying on drinks for energy, Williams said.

“In my opinion, we need to get back to using real foods and things like that to provide us energy, not a lot of these processed foods,” she said.

According to an article in USA Today, caloric intake from sugary drinks increased by an average of 83 calories a day between 1977 and 2001. Such beverages make up 8 to 9 percent of calories in the diet of an average American.

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