Before the 1950s, 6.5 ounces was the standard size for soda bottles. Now 20-ounce bottles are standard, but even larger 42-ounce bottles are available, meaning soft drink consumption continues to rise. According to an article published in 2011 in “Preventive Medicine,” in 2009, the average American consumed 31 gallons of regular soft drinks. The calories from the beverages are empty calories with no nutritional value. An occasional soda isn’t going to harm you, but drinking too much may lead to weight gain and health problems.
Harvard University states that the increased consumption of sugary beverages, such as soda, is a major factor in the growing obesity epidemic. A 20-ounce soda contains 240 calories while a 64-ounce soft drink contains a whopping 700 calories. Dr. Christopher Ochner, assistant professor of pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Fox News that if you drink a can of cola every day, you will gain 14 1/2 pounds in a year. Excessive weight gain puts you at risk for diabetes, certain cancers, arthritis, heart disease and stroke.
Excessive weight gain contributes to heart disease, but so too do the ingredients in soda. Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, medical director of the cardiac health program at Mount Sinai, told Fox News that the sodium and caffeine in soft drinks put your heart at risk. Sodium causes you to retain fluid and caffeine elevates your heart rate and blood pressure. An analysis published in 2012 in “Circulation” followed more than 42,000 men and discovered those who drank one sugary drink a day had an increased risk of heart attack compared to those who rarely or never drank sugary beverages.
Most people have a hard time eating just one cookie and that’s because sugar is addictive. If you drink a soft drink, your blood sugar spikes and your body produces insulin to balance that spike. Your blood sugar then crashes and you seek out more sugar-filled soda to compensate. Over time, your body becomes resistant to insulin leaving you unable to metabolize sugar and resulting in diabetes, according to Dr. Ochner. If you drink one to two soft drinks a day, you increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 26 percent, according to a meta-analysis published in 2010 in "Diabetes Care."
If you prefer to avoid the dentist, cut back on soft drinks. The bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar. They feed on it and produce an acid that wears away your teeth enamel causing cavities. New Jersey Dentist Dr. Howard Glazer told “Better Homes and Garden” you can cut your cavity risk in half by rinsing your mouth with water immediately after drinking soda.
Gout is a condition in which your body has too much uric acid, causing your joints to become swollen and inflamed. An analysis of data from the Nurses' Health Study, published in 2010 in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” which followed almost 80,000 women for 22 years, reported that women who drank one sugary beverage a day had a significantly increased risk of gout compared to those who rarely drank sugary beverages.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet
- Preventive Medicine: Estimating the Potential of Taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Reduce Consumption and Generate Revenue
- Fox News: Soda: Public Health Enemy Number One?
- Circulation: Sweetened Beverage Consumption, Incident Coronary Heart Disease, and Biomarkers of Risk in Men
- Diabetes Care: Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis
- Better Homes and Gardens: Ask the Dentist: Soda Pop and Cavities
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Fructose-Risk Beverages and Risk of Gout in Women