Experts Challenge Health Standards of Michelle Obama's Juice Line: A Taste for Dispute?
Michelle Obama's brand of low-sugar Plezi drinks has been placed under scrutiny, with experts alleging that the former First Lady's juice line does not meet the health standards established during her husband's presidency.
Plezi, which promises multiple health benefits, reportedly contains 75% less sugar than other leading fruit juice brands and provides 2 grams of fiber per bottle. The brand offers kid-friendly flavors such as Tropical Punch, Orange Smash, Sour Apple, and Berry Blast.
However, public health advocates have expressed concerns to Bloomberg that Plezi doesn't meet the nutritional standards put forward under Obama-era school meal regulations, which are presently under review.
The regulations, as stated in the Bloomberg report, allow elementary and middle schools in the U.S to serve only water, milk, or 100% fruit or vegetable juice devoid of added sweeteners (although juice dilution with water is permissible). None of Plezi's four flavors apparently meet these criteria.
Critics point out that while Michelle Obama has been a vocal proponent for healthier school meals, her endeavor to provide a healthier alternative to soda still falls short due to the inclusion of "non-nutritive sweeteners" like stevia leaf and monk-fruit extracts in Plezi's beverages.
Nutrition professor Jerold Mande criticized the move, stating, "She has been misled by advisors who persuaded her to initially target 6-to-12-year-olds with a flashy, ultra-processed beverage that might not be any healthier than diet soda."
Bonnie Liebman, the nutrition director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, agreed, stating, "Kids would fare better consuming the natural fiber found in fruits, as opposed to the processed fiber added to Plezi."
Contrarily, some voices support Michelle's endeavor, arguing that Plezi drinks present a less sugar-laden option compared to soda and are fine for occasional consumption.
The American Heart Association's spokesperson explained, "Low-calorie sweetened drinks can be a reasonable alternative on occasion, considering that water and milk are the healthiest choices."
Plezi's website underscores this argument, stating that for school-aged children, "drinking only water and milk isn't a reality" most of the time. The site also emphasizes the importance of adequate water consumption for children and offers tips on how to ensure that.