By Brian Trinh
For students with crazy schedules, the idea of health in a bottle is tempting.
Drinks like vitaminwater and Fuze, with names such as “rescue” and “vitalize” and are marketed as health boosters are gaining ground on campus. Orientation week brought promoters and freebees and there are now prominent displays in both Pitman Hall and the Hub.
On Monday, Coca Cola, which owns the drinks and holds an exclusivity contract with Ryerson had representatives on campus evaluating the bright displays to make sure the colourful health drinks sell.
But not all students think they should be buying.
“It’s a hoax. I will never drink it. If I want Vitamin water, I’ll take a multivitamin and water,” said Erin Dickson, a fourth-year acting student.
Monica Bettson, a fourth-year dance student said, “water is water and if you eat properly and have a balanced diet, then you don’t need some elitist, special water. It’s a gimmick.”
Some health officials agree.
Registered dietician Donna Bottrell said that these health drinks are over-claiming their health benefits.
“Why do you need to take vitaminwater when you can take it from real fruit?” she said.
Registered dietician Shauna Lindzon said the drinks can actually hurt your health.
“These products have high sugar content and if you’re drinking them everyday, well it can lead to weight gain and would definitely not be recommended to diabetics,” she said.
There are healthier alternatives, she added.
“The healthiness depends on the drink itself, but it’s better to intake your vitamins through your fruits and vegetables because you get the same nutrients listed in the drink without all the extra sugar,” she said.
“I’m under the impression that it’s good for me, I’m not exactly sure,” said Luke Fraser, a second-year urban planning student while examining his bottle of XXX (acai-blueberry-pomegranate) triple anti-oxidants vitaminwater.
“I don’t feel any added bonus or anything like that from it,” he said. He guesses he’s only had vitaminwater around three times.
Despite the doubt surrounding the health benefits of these drinks, Ryersons still sells them on campus since food products are screened by Aramark, Ryerson’s food service provider.
“On the one hand you would say, Aramark makes all of the calls, but I think the fact of it would be that the contract would limit and describe who is responsible for that part,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.
Levy said that Ryerson students are old enough to be responsible for what they buy.
“Around us are vendors that are private sector vendors and… we can’t be paternalistic and have the diet police out to be able to supervise students,” he said.
Ryerson students agree that the university shouldn’t be telling them what to buy.
“It’s the consumer’s choice to [decide] what they drink and there’s always lots of choice to pick what you want,” said Lauara Cordova, a first- year fashion student.
Levy said there is only so much the university can do.
“To provide students with good choices I would say is a great idea, but you can’t do it to the point where you can’t afford to do it… the environment is what it is. We’re surrounded by the private sector with every type of product available, good and bad.”