You may know that sugary beverages aren’t a great addition to anyone’s daily nutritional intake. But did you know that overweight and obese children are getting as much as 15% of their daily caloric intake just from beverages? The labels tell just part of the story. We tell you the rest!


Sometimes the states and cities lead the way and the federal government follows. It was that way with clean air and non-smoking initiatives. It may be happening in the labeling of sweetened beverages. As of June 9, 2015, soda ads in San Francisco must include the following message:

WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.

The city might be onto something. Sugary drinks add calories and do not necessarily add much in the way of nutritional value.  Studies indicate that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure (hypertension) and coronary heart disease.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • Avoid artificially sweetened beverages. A diet soda can be super sweet with artificial sugars. For example, the FDA has approved five types of artificial sweeteners. Gram for gram, each one is far sweeter than sugar. This can lead to an increase in tolerance for sweetness.
  • Avoid soda. Soda has extra calories from sugar and when you drink soda, you're probably drinking less of other beverages that have good things for your body. In addition, drinking soda is like bathing your teeth is sugar and acid, and is harmful to forming bone.  The sugar in soda can give you a spike of energy, followed by a sharp downturn or energy crash.
  • Beware “healthy” claims. A vitamin-water can have just as much sugar and calories as a cola or a candy bar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that the intake of added sugar not exceed six teaspoons daily for women and nine teaspoons daily for men. That’s 24 grams for women and about 36 grams for men. Children should have a lot less than that.
  • Read the ingredients. Does this sound delicious: high fructose corn syrup, ascorbic acid, thiamin hydrochloride, canola oil, sodium citrate, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium benzoate, yellow dye #5 or yellow dye #6? If you can't pronounce the ingredients on the label, you probably shouldn't drink it.
  • Watch portion sizes. A fruit smoothie can be 2.5 servings per container, even though it is in a single bottle. A single juice smoothie can have 300 calories and 60 grams of sugar.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that the average 12-ounce can of cola contains more than eight teaspoons of sugar. By drinking just one small soft drink, a person could have already exceeded their recommended daily sugar maximum.

Obesity is a problem for children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in a single year. The health care costs for people who are obese being nearly $1,500 higher than for those who were of normal weight.

So skip the soda and grab a water.


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