Good News: Consumption of Sugary Soda (That Adds to U.S. Diabetes Problem) Hits All Time Low

Written by on August 4, 2017 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 0 Comments

By Joe Battaglia | Prevent Disease

Carbonated soda pop provides more added sugar in a typical 2-year-old toddler's diet than cookies, candies and ice cream combined. The good news is that soda consumption in the United States fell to a 31-year low in 2016, new figures reveal.

Sales of carbonated soft drinks dipped 0.8 percent last year, according to research from Beverage-Digest.

And it's not just sodas that are taking a hit. Data show sale of fruit juices, sugary drinks, and even diet beverages are at an all-time low.

These low numbers come as obesity in America has spiked, and more information has entered the market about the health risks related to the sugar-packed drinks.

Instead of reaching for a soda, data shows people are drinking trendy sugar-free drinks like sparkling water, pre-bottled coffee and sports drinks.

Rates of diabetes in the United States are currently at an all-time high, and sugary drinks are one of the main contributors.

Consider the hard facts about soft drinks: soda consumption could lead to various health problems.

Related Article: A Scientific Look At How Soda Destroys Your Body (video)


One very recent, independent, peer-reviewed study demonstrates a strong link between soda consumption and childhood obesity.

One previous industry-supported, unpublished study showed no link. Explanations of the mechanism by which soda may lead to obesity have not yet been proved, though the evidence for them is strong.

Many people have long assumed that soda — high in calories and sugar, low in nutrients — can make kids fat. But until this month there was no solid, scientific evidence demonstrating this.

Reporting in The Lancet, a British medical journal, a team of Harvard researchers presented the first evidence linking soft drink consumption to childhood obesity. They found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were more likely to be overweight than those who didn't.

For each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity increased 1.6 times.

Obesity experts called the Harvard findings important and praised the study for being prospective. In other words, the Harvard researchers spent 19 months following the children, rather than capturing a snapshot of data from just one day. It's considered statistically more valuable to conduct a study over a long period of time.

Researchers found that schoolchildren who drank soft drinks consumed almost 200 more calories per day than their counterparts who didn't down soft drinks. That finding helps support the notion that we don't compensate well for calories in liquid form.

Tooth Decay

Beverage consumption in most developed countries of the world is now a major contributor of tooth decay. It's one health effect that even the soft drink industry admits, grudgingly, has merit. In a carefully worded statement, the NSDA says that “there's no scientific evidence that consumption of sugars per se has any negative effect other than dental caries.” But the association also correctly notes that soft drinks aren't the sole cause of tooth decay.

In fact, a lot of sugary foods, from fruit juices to candy and even raisins and other dried fruit, have what dentists refer to as “cariogenic properties,” which is to say they can cause tooth decay.

Okay, so how many more cavities are soft drink consumers likely to get compared with people who don't drink soda? This is where it gets complicated.

A federally funded study of nearly 3,200 Americans 9 to 29 years old conducted between 1971 and 1974 showed a direct link between tooth decay and soft drinks. Numerous other studies have shown the same link throughout the world, from Sweden to Iraq.

But sugar isn't the only ingredient in soft drinks that causes tooth problems. The acids in soda pop are also notorious for etching tooth enamel in ways that can lead to cavities. “Acid begins to dissolve tooth enamel in only 20 minutes,” notes the Ohio Dental Association in a release issued earlier this month.

As more information has become available for consumers about how to slim down and stay healthy, Americans have started cutting down on things like soda and fast foods.

But the decrease in sales hasn't hurt companies like Coca Cola or Pepsi Co, as demand for lower calorie products like trendy sparkling water, coffee and tea is at an all-time high.

Drinks like bottled waters and value-added (sparkling or flavored) waters made up for the drop in soda sales.

‘People are increasingly becoming aware of the downside of soda drinking stemming from the high sugar and calorie content of regular soda and concerns surrounding the health impact of artificial sweeteners used in diet soda,' Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer, stated.

‘As a result many people are seeking out more natural and healthful beverages, which likely explains why bottled water sales now outpace soda sales,' she explained.

Since 2004, the market for soda has decreased by 1.6 billion cases, according to a Beverage-Digest report obtained by Fortune.

In the last year, the steepest decline was seen in the sale of Diet Pepsi, which fell by 9.2 percent, and Diet Coke, 4.3 percent. Though, both drinks still rank among the top 10 most popular soft drinks in America.

That plunge in sales is due to increased skepticism of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame.

This data also comes as the Western diet, which is characterized by high fat and high sugar meals, has come under attack by nutritionists as the cause for numerous health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers.

Politicians in the United States are currently pushing for a new nation-wide soda tax in an attempt to cut sales of the sugary soft drinks even further and improve national health.

The first soda tax went into effect in California in April, and cut drink sales by 10 percent, a clear sign that the move could help in the fight against obesity.

The state was following in the footsteps of Mexico, which saw a similar drop in soda consumption thanks to a sugar tax.

In Mexico – a country with serious and escalating diabetes rates – soda sales dropped by six percent in 2014 after a tax rise and a 10 percent price hike.

Experts estimated that cutting soda consumption by just 20 percent could save up to $23.6 billion in healthcare costs over 10 years.

American teenagers are increasingly shunning fizzy drinks, a CDC report revealed.

Soda drinking among high school students in the US dropped by over one-third from 2007 to 2015.

Meanwhile there has been a uptick in the number of American children drinking diet soda.

Related Article: Is the Soda Industry Hiding Health Risks of Drinking Soda?

Researchers say the new figures are encouraging as sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the largest contributors of added sugars to adolescents' diets.

However, they noted that the overall prevalence of Americans drinking sugary drinks, at any age, remains high and more approaches need to be put into place for the downward trend to continue.

The report, as part of the CDC's weekly Morbidity and Mortality report, took its data from the YRBS – a US survey that provides representative data on health behaviors among students in grades nine to 12.

The survey asked the high schoolers how many times that had drunk ‘a can, bottle, or glass of soda or pop, such as Coke, Pepsi, or Sprite' and not counting diet drinks.

Researchers found that the number of students drinking soda daily had significantly fallen from 33.8 percent in 2007 to 20.4 percent in 2015.

Read more great articles at Prevent Disease.

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