Sugar-Sweetened Beverages And The Obesity Epidemic
Patricia Zifferblatt | April 1, 2007

In the August 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a very interesting and important study from The World Health Organization (WHO) was published.

According to the WHO, over 1 billion adults throughout the world are overweight--they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more. Of the 1 billion overweight adults, about 300 million are considered obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher. (Check yours with our BMI calculator.)

The tremendous number of obese adults causes great concern among health professionals and health agencies.

Are sugary beverages linked to this statistic?
They look like a prime suspect: the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, in step with the incidence of obesity. It has been suspected for many years that there’s a direct correlation between the consumption of these sugary drinks and the rise in worldwide obesity, and the research supporting this correlation is now coming in. Sugar-sweetened beverages and in particular soft drinks (sodas) provide little nutritional benefit while increasing the dangers of weight gain, obesity, bone fractures, and dental cavities.

Health professionals worldwide are advising their patients to limit sugary drinks, and what’s more important, keep their children from drinking them. In addition, children’s health professionals recommend a reduction in the consumption of fruit juices as beverages, and an increase in water and skim milk consumption instead.

What should I drink?
  • First and foremost, drink fewer soft drinks!

  • Start drinking more water and skim milk, along with tea and coffee, black or artificially sweetened; limit your use of caffeine since it can stimulate your appetite.

  • Choose a diet soft drink rather than a drink that contains the equivalent of a quarter cup of sugar, like a 12-ounce can of soda does--a quarter cup of sugar!

  • Fruit juices are good if they’re the real deal, not just sugar water dressed up pretty, but watch the sugar content and calories and limit your children’s juice intake.

  • If on occasion, you want to enjoy a sugared soft drink or a special high-calorie coffee drink, do so--but only occasionally! Those daily lattes really add up--dare I say they make a dent in your wallet and dimples in your thighs?

  • Learn more about the health dangers of obesity and poor dietary practices; make them part of your everyday teaching moments with your kids.
And remember, grocery shoppers: if you buy high-sugar beverages and bring them into the house, your family will drink them. However, if your family can get these high-sugar beverages only when they’re away from home, you’re limiting the potential consumption of these drinks and their negative effects.

As spring gets going and we enjoy the season of renewal, remember that for every action there is a reaction, either good or bad. With unlimited consumption of sugary drinks come consequences. Whether you and your family suffer the consequences is largely up to you, and I know you want only the best for those you love.
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