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Nutrition

Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed articles on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Discover the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

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Soft Drinks: Are They Really Bad For You?



Soda -- it's everywhere! Even if you wanted to drink something else, you'd be hard-pressed to find it as prominently displayed in vending machines, at fast-food chains, and supermarket checkouts. You might not realize how ubiquitous Coke, Pepsi, and the like are in our society until you try to stop drinking soda.

For some people, drinking several sodas a day is a fierce habit. You know drinking soda is a habit when you find yourself going to the grocery store at 10 p.m. because your refrigerator is tapped out, or you feel like having a tantrum when the drive-through attendant tells you the soda machine is broken. If the idea of drinking one token soda a day is unfathomable, you just might have a serious soda habit.

Why Stop Drinking So Much Soda?

So why would you want to make the effort to kick the soda habit? A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed 88 previously published studies about the health effects of soft drinks. What they found is that those who drink soft drinks consume more calories over the course of the day, they have a higher body weight, and they are more likely to have lower intakes of calcium and other nutrients.

Those who drink soda or consume larger volumes of soft drinks are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The authors also found that if a study was sponsored by the soft drink industry, there were fewer reports of the adverse health effects compared to non industry studies.

Soft drinks contain sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. The human body has a hard time processing and reacting to caloric intake in the form of these liquids. Prior to 100 years ago the only liquids humans really consumed in any significant amount were water and milk. Essentially, when you drink a 16 oz soda which has the equivalent of 13 teaspoons of added sugar in it, the body does not register these calories in terms of making you feel full. By drinking a soda with your meal you do not eat 250 calories less, you eat the same amount of food but add on 250 additional calories with the soft drink. And all the calories are coming from simple sugar which is very easily stored as fat.

Sugared soft drink consumption seemed to peak in 1998 when the average American drank 56 gallons of sodas per year. Many people drink no soft drinks so quite a few people are drinking even more than that. Over the past few years the numbers have decreased to 52 gallons per person per year. This would translate into 9 ounces of soft drinks every day. One study showed a significant increase in obesity if a child had just one 12 oz soda a day. Clearly Americans need to drink less. Currently the soft drink industry creates 600 8oz servings of soft drinks per person per year. This high production rate drives soft drink companies to invest in advertising to promote soft drink consumption.

To decrease soft drink intake we must promote awareness. Consumers are becoming more aware of the health risks associated with drinking too many soft drinks and Super-Sizing. Making healthier beverage choices makes a difference in everyone's health and we need to remember to do it.

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