Sweet Drinks and Obesity
The consumption of sweetened drinks -- including soda, juice and other beverages such as Kool-Aid and sports drinks -- has been on the rise in the past decades. At the same time, the prevalence of obesity in children also has risen.
Don't drink your calories. Soda, fruit juice (even 100 percent juice), whole or 2 percent milk, sports drinks, Kool-Aid and other sweetened beverages all contain a lot of calories. What's worse, they do little to fill you up and provide little or no nutritional benefit.
You may not know that . . .
A 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains 180 calories, which is the same as eating three chocolate-chip cookies.
Drinking just one 12-ounce can of soda every day for a year is equal to 55,000 calories or 15 pounds a year.
Juice -- Not as Healthy as Fruit
Many people think of juice as an essential part of a child's diet. However, juice isn't as healthy as people think.
Drinking a lot of juice makes younger children feel full quickly. Feeling full from juice will decrease the amount of food a child eats. For older children, drinking a lot of juice doesn't usually cause fullness and the excess calories from juice can result in weight gain.
It's much healthier to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice. For example, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice, which is the juice of two to three oranges, has about 180 calories . But eating one orange is only 80 or 90 calories and it does more to fill you up.
For children who are overweight, the basic recommendation is no juice.
Sodas -- Liquid Sugar
Sodas and other sweetened drinks are full of sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup. Many sodas also contain caffeine, which is a diuretic that can cause dehydration. Another problem with sweetened beverages is that the body doesn't register it's full after drinking hundreds of calories. This may have to do with ghrelin, the hormone in your stomach that lets you know when you're hungry. When the hormone increases, you are hungry. When you eat, the hormone goes down. However, it only works with food, not liquid. Drinking soda, juice, sports drinks and other sugar-sweetened liquids does nothing for your hunger, even if you consume hundreds of calories. As a result, sugar-sweetened beverages are often wasted calories.
In other words, the human digestive system is not designed for drinking calories. Soda is a relatively recent addition to the human diet. Soda was introduced in the second half of the 19th century and there was not an obesity problem until the 20th century. When looking at obesity in the United States alongside fructose and soft drink consumption, they are on a parallel line.
Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2002 - 2009 The Regents of the University of California
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