Who doesn’t love a can of soda on a hot day? This black beverage is also the preferred accompaniment to cakes, donuts and sandwiches for snacks at home. And lest we forget, don’t our cheeseburger and French fries feel incomplete without it? Some have taken to guzzling soda after every meal or whenever they’re thirsty that it might as well be water. It’s cheap, delicious and refreshing.
So, what’s the big deal with it? Why is it receiving so much flak from health and nutrition authorities?
Perhaps a landmark study in California can provide us with the answer. In September of 2009, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research commissioned a study that directly linked the consumption of soda and sugar-sweetened drinks to the obesity epidemic faced by the State of California.
Taking data from a 2005 California Health Interview Survey that interviewed more than 43,000 adults and 4,000 adolescents from all counties in California, the report entitled Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California revealed that 41 percent of children aged 2 to 11 years old, 62 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or a sugar-sweetened beverage everyday. The report revealed that individuals, young or old, who consumed one or more sodas on a daily basis are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.
Clearly, the link between soda and obesity in California has been proven in this study. Unfortunately, it isn’t a problem that’s only confined there. Some researchers from such top educational institutions as Harvard and Yale even go as far as indicting soda, saying that it actually causes obesity. Marilyn Marchione of the Associated Press in a report published in the San Diego Union Tribune on March 5, 2006 reveals that obesity roughly doubled from 1977 to 1997 when “soft drink consumption rose more than 60 percent.” Another Harvard study involving 51,603 nurses from 1991 to 1995 and 1995 to 1999 found higher BMIs from those whose soda consumptions had increased than those whose consumption had remained the same or had significantly been lessened. Another federal study conducted in 1999 to 2002 that scrutinized the dietary patterns of 9,500 American adults also found that those who consumed more soda were also high consumers of fast food. Conversely, those who drank more healthful beverages like water and low-fat milk were also more inclined to eat vegetables and less likely to feast on fast food.
While the beverage industry seeks to dispel the link between soda and obesity, past and previous studies point to the undeniable truth. Soda and obesity are inextricably related– and it is an association that doesn’t bode well for our midsections and our health.
So that’s the big deal with soda. It puts our life and that of our children on the line. With obesity comes high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and the prospect of an early death. Perhaps an occasional can won’t matter as much, but that doesn’t mean the 120 calories won’t go to our waistlines. We parents might think that giving our kids a soda treat once a week isn’t harmful but that won’t instill in them healthy eating habits. Now that the evidence has shown how harmful soda actually is, it’s better to avoid it completely.