Obesity is, admittedly, an intricate issue that may depend on numerous factors. Genetics, eating habits, lifestyle and exercise are some of the most commonly referred causes of obesity. Although there is no single cause for obesity, researchers have correlated the increased consumption of sugary beverages with the rise of obesity in the United States, considering the soft drink consumption as one of the top contributors to the obesity problem.
In 2005, ‘Liquid Candy’, a report produced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), suggested that soft drinks are the leading source of calories in the diet of Americans. Soft drinks have a high concentration of added sugars, and particularly, fructose corn syrup in each can. However, as fructose is known for not affecting appetite, people who regularly consume fructose-sweetened drinks do not feel satiated and thus overconsumption is encouraged. Besides, companies produce nearly 52 gallons of soda pop per year, enough to fill up every man, woman or child.
Another study conducted by a Harvard School of Public Health indicated that the increased consumption of soft drinks by women from less than one per week to more than one per day resulted in gaining eighteen pounds on average per year. On the contrary, women who cut back on soft drink consumption and reduced it to no more than one per day gained only six pounds on average per year. Besides obesity, overconsumption of soft drinks was also associated to severe health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
The increased consumption of soft drinks per day may add up to fifteen pounds to an average body weight in a year. Besides, added sugars are not only high on calories, but they also impede the natural ability of body to process calories. High intake of added sugars displaces the nutritional value of a healthy diet and is correlated to lower intake of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. As a result, overconsumption of soft drinks is implicated for high triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
According to the American Heart Association, the recommended consumption of added sugars should account up to 10 percent of total daily consumption in order to avoid metabolic abnormalities, unfavorable health conditions and deficit in essential nutrients. However, the average American consumes 130 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar per day by drinking one 12-ounce can of soft drink. Besides, American children consume one-third of their daily calories from soft drinks and may account even for 43 percent of their total daily consumption.
Beyond any doubt, the empty calories of soft drinks contribute to obesity. This has become more evident in the late 1990s when consumption of soft drinks reached its peak, an impressive 56.1 gallons per American yearly (!). According to scientific evidence, obesity is directly related to soft drink consumption. In return, excess weight leads to severe health conditions such as heart diseases, strokes and cancer. No wonder then why obesity is the second cause of death in the United States, after cancer.