Sodas and Obesity – Here’s The Proof!

Despite periodic disclaimers from the American Beverage Association, there isn’t a health professional worth his salt who doesn’t believe soda drinking is linked to obesity.

Now researchers have provided proof.

Researchers from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA) found that adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity.

The study, called “Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California”,  found that 41 percent of children (ages 2 – 11), 62 percent of adolescents (ages 12 – 17) and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage every day– the equivalent of consuming 39 pounds of sugar each year in soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Research shows that over the last 30 years Americans consumed 278 more calories per day even as physical activity levels remained relatively unchanged. One of the biggest changes in diet during that period was the enormous increase in soda consumption, accounting for as much as 43 percent of all new calories.

“We drink soda like water”, said CCPHA Executive Director Dr. Harold Goldstein, one of the authors of the research. “But unlike water, soda serves up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar in every 20-ounce serving.”

And of course, calories are only part of the issue. Sugar- or “liquid sugar” in the case of soda- is as high on the glycemic charts as you can get, triggering large releases of insulin, the fat-storage hormone, and eventually contributing to problems like Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes.

According to Goldstein, that research, combined with this new data on soda consumption, offers conclusive proof of the link between soda and obesity.

“Soda is cheap, sweet and irresistibly marketed to teens,” says the study’s lead

author, Dr. Susan H. Babey, a research scientist with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “Not enough teens know about the health and dietary risks of drinking huge quantities of what is essentially liquid sugar while television and advertising tell them it is `cool` to do so.”

Of course you can count on the American Beverage Association and The Sugar Association to issue denials and refutations of the research. (The Sugar Association has already issued a “response” to the American Heart Association’s scientific statement “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health”—you can read it here. Don’t believe it for a minute.

Sugar is helping to fuel the obesity crisis, the diabetes epidemic, and is an emerging player in the development of some cancers. To the extent that you can reasonably avoid it, you should do so.

And one of the easiest ways- with the most bang for your lifestyle-changing buck- is to dump the sodas.





  1. James

    Hi johnny,
    My name is james, i am a personal trainer from england. I am a huge fan of your blog and your work in general. I have just finished reading your blog post about the UCLA study on sodas. I just wondered what your thoughts were reguarding produced like coke zero, diet coke, sprite lite etc. I have read somewhere a statement from charles poliquin saying ” although there isn’t the sugar or calorie intake with diet sodas, the body mat recognise the sweet taste and respond by releasing inslin anyway”. the quote is what i remember, not the exact words of charles. Any feedback, studies that could shed some light on the subject would be awesome.

    Thanks James

  2. Dr. Jonny

    Charles is absolutely right and you remember the quote pretty accurately. We don’t know for sure if that’s what happens but we suspect it is. And studies show diet soda drinking is also related to obesity.


  3. Alan

    Hi Jonny. It’s pretty easy to convince people about the negative effects of the sugar and calories in soda, what can I say to people about diet soda? I know it’s still garbage but I haven’t found the proper verbiage that gets people to give it up yet.



  4. Marvin

    I hope that in your next post you complete the “one-two punch” and clearly explain why diet drinks are not the answer. Since that is the first place the mind of a soda drinker will go when presented with this info. Keep up the good work!

  5. Liz

    I’m a Registered Nurse who was not diagnosed as low thyroid until I weighed about 420 pounds! I am not a “weight loss specialist”, but my wieght is now about 295! I have experiance in what works. I found a way to shrink my stomach without any operation, and without being hungry…ever! I call my method the “all you can eat” diet. My portions have naturally shrunk from 3 to 5 heaping plates at a buffet, to 1/2 a salad, 1/2 plate of entree and two or three bites of dessert. My friends are amazed.

    Step one is crucial. Get blood tests for thyroid stimulating hormone levels, T3 and T4. Also a glucose tolerance test. Bring a book as this takes 4 hours. A cardiac panel will also be ordered. Have urine checked for protiens as well.
    The test for long term diabetes control should be 7 or less. Mine was 13.8 when I drank diet Coke by the case. I never drank regular soda.

    The next step is to keep a food diary noting quantity in ounces and time of day. You may choose to indicate mood. Happy face, frowning, smoke out the ears? Tired?
    Rate your hunger, enjoyment, and fullness. Do this for a month while developing a new skill. Hydrating for health is essential, but I only drank sips of water when I was heavier. I worked at taking larger swallows, and more of them. Now I can “chug” a pint or 1/2 liter. My dailygoal is to drink a liter for every 50 pounds I weigh.
    This does not include any other beverages. Yes I was consuming 12-16 bottles of spring water every day. This caused my +4 pitting edema to drop considerably. Shoe size mens 9 eeeeee to a more appropriate ladies 10 W
    The one thing that causes me to get of a “plateau” is increasing Water consumption by 20 to 50% If I’m traveling and don’t drink enough I gain water weight at a phenominal rate. I once gained over 70 pounds in less than 10 days. My legs were so swollen they were like watermelons. I had skin breakdowns in the creases and resembeled the “Bride of Michlen Man” Some of the fluid came off with diuretics, but it took a while. Now I make very sure to carry a water bottle and fill it frequently. You can keep track by putting rubber bands on the bottle and removing one each time you drink it dry and refill.

    It’s been my experiance that soda consumption will drop naturally if you are focusing on drinking plenty of water. Suggested wording might be “Drink a liter of water, then have a soda, if you still desire one.” Ask for a big glass of water at the cafe, drain it, then decide if you want a refill or a soda. Personally, I prefer my water without ice, and with a slice of lemon or lime. One can make diet lemonaide, by asking for lemon slices in water, squeezing them and adding a packet of splenda.
    The above is copyrighted, an exterpt from the diet book I’m writing. The companion exercise guide allows most of the exercises to be done from the “comfort of your recliner”

    Does anybody have a use for a plethoria of empty water bottles? I live where recycling in not an option. I don’t even have an attic to insulate. DIY ‘ wall o water type gadget for tomatoes?

    Does anyone know of a place that wants VERY Large nearly new clothing? I’ve dropped from pant size 4X to 2X or 34 to pant size 26. I’ve taken my favorite Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in about 10 inches in the waist. Yes they look comical, as I have a hands width of fabric loose on each side of my thigh. I’m 1/3 of the way to my goal. I wnt to zip my wedding dress for my 35th in March. Eighty pounds in D J F M only four months? WOW Thats a lot of water… and very little Soda!

    I would like to find out more about becoming a “weight loss coach”

  6. Dr. Jonny

    what a fascinating story- thank you for sharing! i’m sure many people will find this quite helpful!

    My weight loss coach certification program through Coach Training Alliance begins again in January- you can find out more on the Coach Training Alliance Website, or e mail We’d love to have you in the class!


  7. BGreen

    Hi Liz,
    Good for you – so nice to hear you took charge of your health!
    About those clothes… drop them off at an FA meeting if there is one in your area. Food Addicts in recovery drop excess weight so fast, we try to save each other money by recycling our “fat clothes” as we shrink out of them. People who were a lot heavier than you were can use them on their way down.

  8. Sarah Bearden

    Hi Jonny:

    Great article! I read the sugar industry’s response and was especially drawn to one of the last sentences: “Sugar is used in our food supply not only because it provides sweet taste, but also provides essential functional properties in food formulation, especially safety due to its preservative action. ” In my opinion, the words “food” and “formulation” should NEVER go together.

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    you are very kind. Thank you. And much luck!@


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