The percentage of Americans who are obese has stopped rising in recent years for the first time since about 1980. The amount of soda Americans drink has plunged in recent years. Those two facts are very much related, The New York Times emphasized repeatedly in a July 24, 2015 article entitled “Americans Are Finally Eating Less.”
“The amount of full-calorie soda drunk by the average American has dropped 25 percent since the late 1990s,” the article reports. The anti-obesity public health campaigns have focused on one subject more than any other: beverages. Anti-soda messages hit their target.”
The New York Times report was based on the U.S. government’s study of Americans’ food diaries and food purchases. The study concluded that the amount of calories of food Americans eat has been declining since 2003. This decline came after a “near-steady incline since the mid-1970s. The incline caused obesity rates to rise in all 50 states.
The decline in soda consumption has been the No. 1 reason that calorie consumption has declined. A chart in The New York Times article shows that the amount of calories children drank from “sugar-sweetened beverages” declined 79 percent from 2004 to 2012. That’s not a typo. The chart’s headline is “For Children, Soda Is Main Shift.” The 79 percent reduction dwarfs the amount of fewer calories children ate from meat, poultry, fish and eggs (21 percent), salty snacks (11 percent), fast food (10 percent), and dairy (9 percent). The bottom line is that soda was a primary cause of Americans’ rising obesity rates for decades. How dangerous is soda?
The Dangers of Drinking Soda
Drinking Soda Kills People
Soda and other sugary drinks are responsible for about 184,000 deaths worldwide each year, reports Tufts (Mass.) University. Researchers from the college studied national dietary surveys conducted in 50 nations from 1980 to 2010. Then, they studied how many people died in those nations from obesity and diseases that are more apt to occur when people don’t eat properly. The report was summarized in “Put Down That Soda,” an article in the Tufts publication TuftsNow. About 133,000 of the 184,000 who died due to sugary drinks died of diabetes.
Drinking Soda Ages People
Can soda really be as harmful as smoking? The evidence on soda isn’t as bad as the evidence on cigarettes, but Newser’s article on the subject is titled “Soda Ages Our Cells as Much as Smoking.” The article reports that drinking soda made people’s telomeres shorter. When telomeres, which are on our chromosomes, are shorter, your life is shorter. A University of California-San Francisco report concluded that 20 ounces of soda per day shortens people’s lives by 4.6 years. Smoking has the same exact effect, the report said.
Drinking Soda Causes Diseases
“Is drinking soda really that bad for you?” is the headline of a CNN report. The article answers the question with a list of diseases that you are more apt to get if you drink soda. For starters, people who drink more than one soda per day are at a greater risk of a stroke. Rapidly digested sugar and a high amount of fructose corn syrup is the problem. The sugar increases your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, high triglycerides levels, low good cholesterol levels, obesity, and strokes.
Drinking Diet Soda Could be Worse
The primary problem with soda is sugar. Diet soda has aspartame rather than sugar. However, aspartame might be more harmful, reports the Wellness Mama article “Ten Reasons to Avoid Drinking Soda.” Aspartame can increase your risk of brain tumors, diabetes, emotional disorders, multiple sclerosis, and seizures.
The CNN article reports that about 50 percent of Americans drink at least one beverage with sugar, mostly soda, per day. Altogether, men drink about 1,200 calories of sugar-sweetened beverages per week. Women drink about 700 calories of sugar-sweetened beverages weekly.