Hard Data About Soft Drinks: Good Health Is Drowning in 52 Gallons of Sugar Water

You can call it a sparkling beverage, but you can’t call it healthy: An analysis of 88 studies on the effects of regular (non-diet) soda pop, the best-selling item in grocery stores, has concluded that it’s not good for you. Soft drinks, sold to the tune of $11.7 billion a year, are associated with reduced milk and nutrient intake and with increased calorie consumption, body weight, and type 2 diabetes.

Among the researchers’ findings was the fact that the more soda pop people drink, the more food they eat. And they’re not eating vegetables with all that pop. Soft drink consumption was also related to higher intake of carbohydrates and less intake of fruit, fiber, and macronutrients.

Worse still, an eight-year study of 91,249 women found that those who downed at least one soft drink a day were twice as likely to get type 2 diabetes as those who drank fewer than one serving a month.

The analysis, published in the February 2007 American Journal of Public Health, was not to the taste of the American Beverage Association, which pointed out that soft drinks are good when you’re thirsty and that “there are no good or bad foods.” Oh, and physical exercise is more important than whether you drink a “sparkling beverage” now and then.

The sad fact of the matter is, we’re not drinking just a soda or two. Our intake of high fructose corn syrup, the sole sweetener in soft drinks, rose 1000 percent between 1970 and 1990. Today, 52 gallons of soft drinks are produced annually for each and every one of us. Teenage boys get about 13 percent of their calories from soft drinks, about five tablespoons of sugar daily.

No wonder the National Soft Drink Association, former marketer of soda pop, has changed its name to the American Beverage Association, marketer of “sparkling beverages.” No point in advertising the whole soft drink thing unnecessarily.

Sources: American Journal of Public Health, February 2007
Center for Science in the Public Interest

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