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.