Soft drinks

Soft drinks

Public health enemy No. 1?

It is a well-known adage: Drinking too much soft drink is bad for you.  But just how bad is excessive consumption for your body? The unanimous answer from experts: “Very.” Even diet drinks, which utilize artificial sweeteners in place of sugar, could still negatively impact health.

High rates of consumption have been linked with numerous health problems, including weight gain, poor dental health, diabetes and cardiovascular disease – which can ultimately lead to heart attacks, stroke and premature death.

To help better understand the risks, doctors from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and UH Case Medical Centers in Cleveland, Ohio detailed exactly how the body responds to sugary, sweetened beverages.

Calories and weight

The average American consumes 45 gallons of sugary, sweetened beverages per year, according to a 2011 study by Yale University.  Meanwhile, the obesity epidemic is in full swing in the United States, with more than 69 percent of adults considered overweight or obese – a problem which many health experts are quick to blame on Americans’ soda habit.

“The main thing is excess calories,” Dr. Christopher Ochner, assistant professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told FoxNews.com.  “If everything else in their diet is equal, a person who has a can of Coke a day adds an extra 14.5 pounds per year, just from the calories alone.”

“We’re finding some research that seems to indicate that calories from sugar are more easily turned into fat in your body than calories from fat in food are turned into fat in your body,” Ochner said.  Translation: Eating and drinking sugar makes you gain more weight than eating fat.
Another problem with sugary beverages is the method of consumption – drinking. Ochner noted that when individuals drink a lot of calories, their bodies don’t register fullness as quickly as when they eat the calories.  Therefore, they tend to drink more and more soda without getting a signal from their bodies to stop.

Furthermore, as people consume lots of sugar in one sitting, they experience what is commonly referred to as a “sugar rush.”  To match this spike in sugar, the body produces a spike in insulin, which is followed by a glucose crash.  How do people compensate for this crash? Typically by consuming more sugar, Ochner said.

“These people wind up spiking and crashing, and the system that keeps trying to regulate this – it’s up and down,” Ochner said, referring to what is known as the glycemic index. “You get dysregulation, and you wind up getting insulin resistance.  The body’s not able to properly metabolize the sugar, which ultimately leads to diabetes.”

Due to the overwhelmingly adverse health effects associated with drinking soda, Ochner recommends that people should drop soda completely from their diets.-

Heart health

Studies have also shown that people who consume soda tend to develop metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including abdominal girth, elevated blood pressure, raised glucose, elevated triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol (commonly referred to as “good cholesterol”).
“What we consider to be the implication is this accelerates the risk factors for atherosclerosis,” Dr. Sahil Parikh, a cardiologist for UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told FoxNews.com.  “Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries, so when we talk about adult heart disease, we talk about atherosclerosis.”

Source: Soda: Public health enemy No. 1?