Can We Drink Soda Responsibly?

Few countries guzzle soda the way we do. Maybe the problem is us

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The soda controversy continues to bubble up, with the American Beverage Association legally contesting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on sales of super-sized high-sugar drinks. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola launched a recent two-minute commercial portraying itself as part of the solution to America’s obesity problem. Food writers, doctors and bloggers rolled their eyes. “Oh, please,” wrote celebrated nutritionist and author Marion Nestle.

(MORE: Why Americans Need Bloomberg’s Big Gulp Ban)

There really isn’t anything good to say about drinking soda. A 42-ounce super-size drink with 477 calories and 123 grams of sugar, or about 30 teaspoons, is a short cut to heart disease, obesity and diabetes. One in three Americans today is obese, compared to one in five in 1990. There’s no single cause for this increase, but one of them is almost certainly our penchant for quenching our thirst with SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages.)

Other nations drink soda more responsibly. Japan drinks 34 liters per capita, compared to 165 liters per capita in the United States, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Examples of moderation abound: Russia (30 liters per capita), South Korea (27 liters per capita) and Italy (49 liters per capita). In the United States, soda is our most consumed beverage; we drink almost twice as much as we do bottled water.

(MOREHave We Become Too Obsessed with Energy?)

Soda overseas isn’t necessarily more healthy. It’s in the way that they drink it. I recently discovered the Italian soda called chinotto (San Pellegrino and Lurisa brands are available in the U.S.) As with most things food and drink, the Italians do soda better. Their bittersweet cola, made from the citrus chinotto fruit and other herbal flavors, is the Italian version of Coke. It has 23 grams of sugar in a 6.75 fluid-ounce bottle, a standard serving size. Italians drink it as an aperitif or a mid-afternoon treat in limited quantities, which is how Americans used to consume it at soda fountains. They don’t gulp it like water at every meal.

The problem is not soda, the problem is us. Yes, the industry targeted children by placing vending machines in schools. Yes, they spent millions lobbying to protect sales of their products. But, with all the ample evidence, we’re the ones who are buying it.

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62 comments
rogue_wallaby
rogue_wallaby

No mention of HFCS, and how it blocks you from feeling full.  This is a major factor in why we are fat Americans.  Notice how in the seventies everyone was '70s skinny' when regular sugar was used in soft drinks?   HFCS is not just another form of sugar.  The liver thinks it is POISON and treats it as such.  

swaroop
swaroop

here, food industries can do a great job in developing better nutritious food products. More nutritious alternatives to sugar should be used in soft drinks and all other  process foods. I assume food industries are more concerned about all these health related issues such as obesity now a days. However, market is driven by money and they are not asking anybody to buy their products. A better consumer awareness should be developed on buying the processed foods intelligently.

Elvisfofana
Elvisfofana

This is really a no-brainer : drinking soda is bod for you. We do not need all that sugar. All that sugar is bad for our health and it is a huge cost on society. People should be informed correctly about the results o drinking soda. People should be discouraged to drink soda. But : every single person has the right to choose to drink it or not. There is a danger zone though : how about children ? Can we really speak of choice if parents do not responsively restrict soda for their children ? If children have free access to unlimited amounts of soda : where is the limit ? Can we legally penalize parents for letting their children drink too much soda ? A part of me says that so a certain extend it is a stong mistreatment of the children and it should be stopped, but where do you draw the line ? I think that every person should start thinking more about what they eat/drink, because all of those thing are the building blocks of our bodies. Would you build a house with bricks or wood that is unsafe ? I do not think so. Why then would we consider building our body with unhealty parts ?

tbbaot
tbbaot

How much and how often we drink soda is no business of government

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

but there are few drinks better than a large ice cold diet coke

MatthewLRose
MatthewLRose

Sure we can be responsible with soda, it is really a question of: does the individual want to be?

As for myself I have been soda free 9+ years.

MattieLeeFisto
MattieLeeFisto

Well, if you don't want people drinking soda, then fix it so life isn't stressful. Otherwise, shut the hell up and leave me with my Dr. Pepper.

John Rupcich
John Rupcich

what a dumb article to post... that's like saying is a Mcdonalds Big mac or french fries the problem or us? Or white bread or us? Clearly it is bad for you if your consuming it and it has no beneficial properties. Running out of noteworthy stuff to publish?

Keith A. West
Keith A. West

Corn syrup is worse for you than actual sugar it doesn't burn off as quick as sugar does all sodas are made with corn syrup

MikeKelley
MikeKelley

"Can We Drink Soda Responsibly?"  Well according to NYC nanny laws... NO!

perkerk
perkerk

I hate smoking. But drinking a soda is arguably worse for you than smoking a cigarette. And drinking 20 a day is far more likely to kill you, and a lot faster, than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Bee495
Bee495

There is no such thing as drinking soda responsibly.  It is just plain bad for you.  The sugar will throw off your metabolism and make you gain weight.  Diet sodas are a scam.  If you want flavored water, use some lemon or lime juice.  Use sucralose (not sugar) as a sweetener.  Make yourself some iced tea with lemon and without a lot of added sugar.  You will save money and feel better!

KellyBrown
KellyBrown

Actually the fact that Americans drink soda is no ones business but the individual drinking it!  It is our own body!  I would say it is a whole lot better then being an alcoholic!



dbusby
dbusby

One reason Americans drink more soda is that it is relatively cheap.  In Europe, a Coke costs $3-$4 for a small serving, and there is no such thing as a free refill.  If you are worried about sugar, drink diet soda.  If you are worried about artificial sweeteners, drink water.

EmmaGoodson
EmmaGoodson

The soda industry has made it easy for Americans to blame rising obesity rates on their products. When we see soda brand names in our faces almost everywhere we go, it's hard to stay immune to their addictiveness. We can blame the use of high fructose corn syrup for the rise in obesity, but there's another side of the argument to take into account. We could pin the blame on a cultural shift as well. Sure, the soda industry in part caused this shift in ways previously mentioned like vending machines in schools, etc. but it's us who choose to willingly consume sodas. We can't sue the soda companies for making us fat because it's not their fault that we chose to drink their products more than we should. Advertising and cheap costs don't help us turn away from the beverages, but they don't force us to drink them either.

Will Hinkley
Will Hinkley

We could if we wanted to. I probably drink 2-4 sodas a month unless Im visiting family since they drink a lot of soda. Milk, juice, and coffee for me most of the time. Water's not bad either, lol.

Vicki Holzhauer
Vicki Holzhauer

I don't understand the addiction to soda. I'm addicted to water.

jimpseattle
jimpseattle

"soda is our most consumed beverage; we drink almost twice as much as we do bottled water."

No.  You do, maybe.,  I don't.  My consumption is on the order of maybe 4 liters per year if that.  I don't drink a lot of bottled water either...there's this thing called a water fountain, you may have heard of it since they were introduced 150 years ago.

Better correlate those stats for Japan and Italy with alcohol consumption, I think you'll find *those* are higher.

The reason people are overweight is well know:  Calories in exceeds calories out.



Bristol Eastwood
Bristol Eastwood

Gabriel Rodriguez - What are you talking about? Water is still cheaper than soda, tap water and highly filtered water you can fill up 5 gallon jugs near grocery stores. Avoid any purchasing of plastic bottles or jugs less than 1 gallon and use the 5 gallon refill or buy your home a multistage filtration with reverse osmosis setup, it'll still be cheaper and healthier. Keep a refillable jug with a spout in your car too.

Press4Kids, Inc.
Press4Kids, Inc.

What do you think of NYC's law where you can only purchase sodas of a certain size?

Stephanie Vanderyacht
Stephanie Vanderyacht

Diet sodas have aspartame, drinking and eating things you can't pronounce is detrement to everyone's health. Some more than others. The tame sweeteners are major contributors to not only fibromyalgia, but also MS. Inform yourselves, start a garden, learn about herbs. The lack of herbs in our foods is caused by the fast food, processed junk in the grocery stores. The added salt and sugars hook your bodies into craving more. High fructose corn syrup has proven this recently with scientists. Don't believe me, google it. Also Dr. Mercola. A Dr. That actually cares about his fellow human beings. GMOs are a threat to all humanity. Get heirloom or heritage seeds. Start today for healthier families.

Gabriel Rodriguez
Gabriel Rodriguez

Is this author serious? We're bombarded with ads from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. 24/7, 365 days a year, 78.2 years per lifetime and people are still surprised some will give in? When water is cheaper than soda maybe people will stop drinking soda. When the government (WE THE PEOPLE) stops giving subsidies to the corn industry for cheaper corn syrup for soda maybe people will reduce their soda consumption.

Leroy Moses
Leroy Moses

I'm not one to comment ... all I drink is Coca-Cola, approximately 2 Liters everyday!

Bristol Eastwood
Bristol Eastwood

If you think DIET SODA is any healthier than REGULAR SODA for you, you're in for a shock. Educate yourself. Either drink All-Natural cane sugar soda, homemade soda, or none.

Alfred Wheeler
Alfred Wheeler

I never liked soda. I have to brush and rinse right afterward or my mouth feels pained, inflamed and bad taste grows. It's just not worth the brief cool sweet taste... Ice water or nothing for me, thanks.

Joe Baxter
Joe Baxter

No 64oz sodas at the gas stations. Maybe I'll buy a 2 liter and a straw. Wow that was hard to get around

Vanessa Pointejour
Vanessa Pointejour

can we drink soda responsibly.....lol that question is hilarious lol my question is can big corporations and gov. stop selling so much food like products it's not real food and it's not good for us humans or the poor ppl who can't afford all the vegan kosher food

Rikka Lisa Marie Seibert
Rikka Lisa Marie Seibert

I have not had soda since I was a pre-teen. It really does feel like poison to your system when reintroduced with a sip from someone else's drink.

Cidney G. McCall
Cidney G. McCall

We don't do things in moderation. We live among gluttony!

Chad M. Harris
Chad M. Harris

Sodas don't make people obese; people make themselves obese.

MarkSweetipo
MarkSweetipo

America's obesity problems seem to coincide with the rise of high fructose corn syrup which have largely replaced cane sugar in colas (and many other foods) due to our government subsidizing it and thus making it cheaper.  It might not be the cause but it a significant contributing factor.

Carney3
Carney3

@rogue_wallaby It's QUANTITY.  We're drinking way MORE sugary soda than ever.  Demonizing HFCS is a distraction.

Carney3
Carney3

@tbbaot The article made no mention of government, but since YOU did, think about it.  One THIRD of the population being fat, even more overweight.  That's a budgetary and national security disaster.  People suffering lifelong chronic illnesses like diabetes miss more work, rack up more health costs, and die years or decades too soon, harming the economy.   Obviously we shouldn't ban soda at the federal level, but local rules on portion sizes are a rational approach.  The per-unit, inflation-adjusted price of soda has plummeted, making HUGE sizes seem normal when they'd have been laughed at decades ago.  The Big Gulp was originally designed for construction workers to sip at ALL DAY LONG, now people slurp down a SUPER Big Gulp in one sitting with ONE meal.  We should also consider taxing sugar soda and having the proceeds go to anti-obesity programs and health care - let those who are porking out bear some of the burden they would otherwise put on the rest of us.

tbbaot
tbbaot

@Leftcoastrocky Guess again, that diet soda is much worse for you than one made with cane sugar

eacj1234
eacj1234

@Leftcoastrocky That's only because you have developed a taste for it.  Humans don't naturally want to drink artificial sweeteners, and I bet the first time you tasted aspartame or Splenda you weren't going "yummy".  Sugar is different, and kids (and adults) naturally want to those sweet calories.


To me, a large, ice cold diet coke would be disgusting because I can't stand the taste of artificial sweeteners.  

eacj1234
eacj1234

@KellyBrown Actually, obesity and diabetes is a problem we all have to absorb cost-wise.  Soda consumption certainly plays a role in both of these self-inflicted diseases.  Also, if I pay $400 for a plane seat and am sat next to a 400 lb-er slamming Pepsi like there's no tomorrow, it also becomes some else's business.  

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

@jimpseattle  "We" is used to describe the average American.  Some guy three states over may well make up for your lack of consumption.  Your points are valid, let's not argue semantics.  (and by the way, good for you for giving the stuff up.  Me?  I only drink soda as a mixer, so maybe once a week).  

You hit the nail on the head though, people are always looking for the magic secret to weight loss, and it's no secret!  Eat right, exercise, eat sweets and treats in moderation.  Americans just don't know the meaning of the word "moderation" and see indulgence as a byproduct of their rights and freedoms.  Just because you have the freedom to be a fat, unhealthy person, does that make it right?  No man is an island;  whether people like it or not, their obesity does affect other people (e.g. less seats on a plane to make up for larger ones, higher healthcare costs, etc etc etc).  

eacj1234
eacj1234

@Stephanie Vanderyacht Exactly!  If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it.  That's why I only eat things with two syllables or less.  

Aspartame = bad.

Splenda = good

I was vacationing and some dude offered me a "papaya" or something.  I said, "That is bad for me.  I can't pronounce it."  Then, at dinner, I say some "quinoa" on the menu that was spoken to sound like KeenWa, and I said "No, thanks.  I'm watching my diet."



thatwave
thatwave

Corn syrup is a conspiracy theory scapegoat for poor eating decisions. It is just a form of sugar that reacts like any other form of sugar.

tick_tock
tick_tock

@eacj1234 @KellyBrown 

Actually, we all absorb the costs of the decisions of others.  If you go skiing and run into a tree (insurance).  If you drive and have an accident (insurance).   If you have a child (insurance, schools).  The list goes on.  Yet you would not want others to decide that you cannot drive, have a child, or anything else.  Why should you be able to do the same thing?  The point of a free society is people determine their own paths.

tampabaydoug
tampabaydoug

@thatwave you are incorrect.  the science of corn syrup shows the body does not break it down unlike   cane sugar or sugar from other plants which the body actually uses 80% of it for life. Corn syrup goes straight to the liver and stored as fat.  you can not deny science on this one. 

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

@thatwave People do like to blame the HFCS, don't they?  A basic study of nutrition will tell you that it is simply another form of sugar.  Americans just eat more of it because of our unhealthy habits.  Coinciding does not equal causality.  

eacj1234
eacj1234

@thatwave thatwave is correct.  High fructose corn syrup is simply a very cheap form of sugars, and that's why it's used so prevalently in processed foods.  It has a fructose:sucrose ratio not much different than table sugar.


I think the truth is that:

The rise of high fructose corn syrup coincides with a new onslaught of processed foods.  Also, the availability of this cheap sweetener means that food and drinks are loaded up with it.  

tampabaydoug
tampabaydoug

@tick_tock @eacj1234 @KellyBrown  by definition of living in a society you are no longer free you share cost and live by the rules of the local community , state and nation. people's obesity , lack of exercise ripples everyone's cost on health care etc.