The soft drink industry is under pressure. New York recently authorized a law to limit the portion size of soft drinks sold in movie theaters and restaurants. More regulation and limitations are expected across the nation in the coming months and years.
Although many Americans are frightened by the potential for a “nanny state” forming here, supporters of these public healthy policy measures deem them as necessary to protect consumers from obesity related disease. With 200 million Americans overweight or obese, perhaps they are right.
The American Beverage Association, a trade group representing Coca Cola and PepsiCo, states that only 7% of our daily calories come from soft drinks, and therefore the current obesity pandemic cannot be pinned on cola. The industry is fighting vehemently to protect its sales and astronomical profit margins (selling sugar water has higher margins than almost any other business in the world).
However, several new studies, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine this weekend, point to a direct connection between sugary drink consumption and obesity in children.
1. In a trial in the Netherlands, six hundred school children were given an unmarked can of juice drink to consume daily, for 18 months. Some received cans with caloric sweetener, others with artificial sweetener. The ones with the zero calorie cans gained 13.9 lbs vs 16.2 lbs by the kids who drank the 100 calories worth daily. We’re not very happy about the artificial sweetener, but the point here is that the kids drinking caloric beverages gained 16% more weight. In just a year and a half!
2. Stateside, at Boston Children’s Hospital, home deliveries of bottled water and zero calorie drinks were made to several hundred teenagers. They were also encouraged to consume less sugary drinks. When compared to a similar group of peers, the home delivery group gained only 3.5 lbs compared to 7.7 lbs gained by the control group.
The bottom line for parents: take steps to assure your kids drink as much water as possible! Leave the sugary drinks for special occasions, and treat them like a snack, not as a hydration solution.