Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fat Habit: Drinking Soda

Researchers say you can measure a person’s risk of obesity by measuring his or her soda intake. Versus people who don’t drink sweetened sodas, here’s what your daily intake means:

½ can = 26 percent increased risk of being overweight or obese

½ to 1 can = 30.4 percent increased risk

1 to 2 cans = 32.8 percent increased risk

More than 2 cans = 47.2 percent increased risk

That’s a pretty remarkable set of stats. You don’t have to guzzle Double Gulps from 7-Eleven to put yourself at risk—you just need to indulge in one or two cans a day. Wow. And because high-fructose corn syrup is so cheap, food marketers keep making serving sizes bigger (even the “small” at most movie theaters is enough to drown a raccoon). That means we’re drinking more than ever and don’t even realize it: In the 1950s, the average person drank 11 gallons of soda a year. By the mid-2000s, we were drinking 46 gallons a year. A Center for Science in the Public Interest report contained this shocking sentence: “Carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet.”

Bonus Tip: When it comes to making us fat, soda is only one of the big offenders. Other sugary drinks can add belly fat fast, too. That being said, do your best to avoid this fat trap—otherwise you can be slurping more than an entire day's worth of calories, sugar and fat (in just a few minutes). Yikes!


  1. I'm not sure about now, but this was all my Dad would drink, Coca Cola. Hardly would he ever touch water.

    What cracks me up are the people at the drive through at a fast food place that order the "Triple Baconator with cheese or Big Mac with large fries and a 'Diet Coke'..." lol. I have done this before myself, but still laugh.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Eric! We all know that water is good for us and that we should drink more of it. The only problem is that it's not a habit many people form. There are some very powerful reasons to drink lots of water every day and it just takes a little practice to form the habit. Until it becomes a habit, we tend to drink lots of soda, fruit juices and other sweetened beverages. As an added bonus, water is one of the best tools for weight loss because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn't have any calories. But it's also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we're hungry, we're actually just thirsty! I find it useful to keep a big plastic drinking bottle at my desk and drink from it all day long. When it's empty, I fill it up again, and keep drinking.

    As always, bon appétit!

  3. I am wondering if the same is true about diet sodas. I know that the sodium in diet sodas keeps us thirsty and drinking more... I also know that there are things that I will not eat unless I have a soda with it... hmmmmm...

  4. Hi Kellyann,

    I've always wondered the same thing myself and you pose an excellent question. I used to be addicted to diet soda years ago...and I've definitely felt better and dropped a few pounds since I kicked the habit! It took a little getting used to, but I now prefer water with my meals. The only exception I make is if I’m going out to dinner with friends; then I’ll treat myself to a glass of wine (or two) or a cocktail. I figure if I’m going to blow the calories I might as well enjoy it!

    I did a little research on this topic and came up with some pretty interesting facts…I hope you’ll find this helpful. A fascinating article, "Artificially Sweetened Beverages Cause for Concern", recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), challenges the notion that artificial sweeteners are risk free.

    The article’s author, David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, a Harvard professor and Founding Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) clinic at Children’s Hospital, Boston, makes three important points, especially in the context of artificially sweetened drinks:

    1. Our body gets confused by artificial sweeteners – the dissociation between sweet taste and calorie intake may put the regulatory system that controls hunger and body weight out of sync, thus sabotaging weight loss plans. A study on rodents showed that those fed saccharin actually gained weight compared to rodents fed sucrose.

    2. We’re “Infantilizing” our taste sense – Artificial sweeteners are a hundredfold sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). By getting ourselves used to so much sweet, normal sweet flavors, of fruit for example, become bland and so do other healthful foods such as grains and vegetables, thus reducing our willingness to consume them and ultimately the quality of our diet.

    3. Long term effects unclear – while there have been many studies on artificial sweeteners and disease such cancer, very few focused on long term weight gain. A seven year study, (San Antonio Heart Study), showed a relationship between diet drink consumption and obesity, but the causation is not clear. Consumption of artificial sweeteners is growing yearly. According to Ludwig,