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    West Virginia Targets Soft Drinks

    Officials considering campaign to encourage smaller beverage sizes.

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia is considering a campaign to encourage people to sip smaller soft drinks.

    "We're doing it because obesity is an epidemic in our state," said Nidia Henderson, wellness manager for the state Public Employees Insurance Agency.

    The proposed campaign would not be used to dissuade people from drinking soft drinks, but would promote smaller portions, the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press reported. Americans have lost sight of what normal portion sizes are for food and drinks, said Henderson, who noted that a 6-ounce bottle was the standard serving size when soft drinks first became popular. Now fast-food restaurants and convenience stores offer 64-ounce soft drinks containing about 800 calories.

    The proposed advertising campaign would be similar to the "Biggie Fries = Biggie Thighs" campaign that encouraged West Virginians to avoid super-sized fast food meals.

    That campaign won praise from health advocates, but also drew complaints because it featured pictures of overweight people it its billboard and television advertising. West Virginia ranked second among the 50 states and four territories for obesity and general poor health, according to the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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