Soft Drinks: Pop or Poison

Soft drinks may taste good, but they are equivalent to poison

More than 100 health organizations and a dozen scientists signed a joint letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services and the US Surgeon General two years ago ago requesting a definitive report on sugary drinks.  The coalition likened such a report to the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. This new report, states the coalition, would pave the way for implementation of policy measures, as well as voluntary action from the private sector, to improve health and reduce healthcare costs.  Those who signed the letter wrote that they “are deeply concerned about the many harms resulting from the excessive consumption of sugary drinks, particularly among younger people.  Soda and other sugary drinks are the only food or beverage that has been directly linked to obesity, a major contributor to coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, and a cause of psychosocial problems”.

The following statistics were included in the letter:

  • One study found that each extra soft drink consumed per day was associated with a 60% increased risk of overweight in children.
  • Research shows that 46% of 2- and 3-year olds consume sugary drinks each day.
  • Type 2 diabetes used to occur primarily among middle-aged and older adults, but is now becoming more common among teens, especially those in low-income and minority groups.

Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet, providing about 7 percent of calories; adding in noncarbonated drinks increases the figure to 9 percent. Teenagers get 13 percent of their calories from carbonated and noncarbonated soft drinks. Soft drinks contribute large amounts of sugar - mostly high-fructose corn syrup - to the diets of heavy consumers.  In fact, soda pop provides the average 12- to 19-year-old boy with about 15 teaspoons of refined sugars a day and the average girl with about 10 teaspoons a day. These amounts roughly equal the government's recommended limits for teens' sugar consumption from all foods. Soft drinks are a problem not only because of what they contain, but because of what they drive out of the diet. In 1977 to 1978, boys consumed more than twice as much milk as soft drinks, and girls 50 percent more. By 1994 to 1996, both boys and girls consumed twice as much pop as milk. Not surprisingly, heavy soft drink consumption is associated with a lower intake of numerous vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest, in their article “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming American’s Health", states: “These empty calories are likely contributing to health problems, particularly overweight and obesity. Those conditions have become far more prevalent during the period in which soft drink consumption has soared. Several scientific studies have provided experimental evidence that soft drinks are directly related to weight gain. That weight gain, in turn, is a prime risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which, for the first time, is becoming a problem for teens as well as adults. As people get older, excess weight also contributes to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer…Frequent consumption of soft drinks may also increase the risk of osteoporosis—especially in people who drink soft drinks instead of calcium-rich milk. Dental experts continue to urge that people drink less soda pop, especially between meals, to prevent tooth decay (due to the sugars) and dental erosion (due to the acids).” Exercise specialist recommendation?  Avoid pop, drink water!!! Reference: Health Groups, Scientists Call on Surgeon General to Issue Report on Sugary Drinks.  IDEA Fitness Journal, October 2012. Jacobson, Michael L.  Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming American's Health.  Centre for Science in the Public Interest.