Why soda?

Over the past 30 years, obesity rates have increased dramatically for both adults and children. Obesity has become one of public health’s enemy because many chronic diseases are caused because of it. Examples are type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Some major concerns are the growing rates of obesity in children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the prevalence of obesity is 12.4% in young children 2 to 5 years old, 17% in children 6 to 11 years old and 17.6% in adolescents 12 to 19 years old. The treatment of existing obesity is very challenging so it is important to prevent children from becoming obese when they are very young. 30% of children who are obese will remain obese as adults putting themselves at an increased risk for chronic diseases. Even young children are now experiencing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which leads to more effects when they are older.

We need to understand how to prevent obesity from happening, although it may be challenging to some. Genetic influences, lack of adequate exercise, eating foods high in fat, added sugar and energy are all results of becoming obese. We must take a closer look at what is contributing to our obesity epidemic. We need to understand certain lifestyle changes that should be taken into account to change our bad habits.

A big topic in nutrition research in relation to rising obesity rates right now is added sugars, particularly high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is made by converting starch in corn to glucose and the converting some of the glucose to fructose. This ends up being an inexpensive corn-based syrup that’s been replacing sucrose and other sweeteners. Fructose is sweeter than sucrose and is absorbed farther down the small intestine. Fructose can’t enter the brain cells and stimulate satiety signals. Consumption also increases the production of triglycerides in the blood more than glucose. High fructose corn syrup could lead to increased obesity because of its effect on appetite regulation and contribution to excessive energy intake. It’s possible that consuming fructose results in lower levels of insulin and leptin which makes you have an increase in appetite and food intake. Also, high fructose corn syrup is found in soft drinks and researchers find a lot of Americans are consuming these added sugars. The increase use of high fructose corn syrup in beverages relates to the rising obesity rates since the 1970’s when it was first developed. Evidence indicates that the body doesn’t recognize the energy in sweetened beverages in the same way it recognizes solid foods.

Along with just empty calories, soft drinks could also lead to bone loss. Soda typically replaces milk consumption and the phosphorus in some sodas binds with calcium causing it to be drawn out of the bones. This is important for children and adolescents to understand because the bones are still growing at this age.

In 2006, the soft drink industry agreed to ban sales of all sweetened soft drinks in elementary and high schools in the 2009-2010 school year although they are widely spread throughout markets. People need to become more educated and understand where their food and beverages are coming from and the potential effects of what could happen in the short term and long term. Make smart choices and learn from the facts and statistics!

Source: Thompson, Janice, Melinda Manore, and Linda A. Vaughan. The Science of Nutrition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2011. Print.

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