In what is immensely good news for the nation’s soda companies, a new study finds that, as Americans, our addiction to the sugary elixirs is at an all-time high. However, some pro-soda groups are quick to point out that this trend should not be blamed for the rising obesity rate.
A new study by the National Center for Health Statistics – which looked at 17,000 participants – has found that a full half of the U.S. population older than 2 consumes sugary drinks daily, which can be sodas, sports drinks or any of the array commonly found on store shelves. Youths and male teens are the demographics hit especially hard by the increase. The amount of children between 6 and 17 who consume the sugary drinks daily is at around 70 percent, up from 37 percent in the 1970s
“There’s pretty much a consensus among health officials that soft drinks are a major cause of obesity,” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science and the Public Interest, told CNN. The group is actively campaigning to reduce U.S. soda consumption, particularly among youths.
Not so fast, say sugary drink advocates. Although the study stated that such drinks contribute to “poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and in adults, type 2 diabetes,” the American Beverage Association countered that, “contrary to what might be implied… sugar-sweetened beverages are not driving health issues like obesity and diabetes.” To bolster its position the ABA pointed out that from 1998 to 2008 the calorie content of the drinks in question decreased by 21 percent, and that such drinks even at their current level of consumption account for only 7 percent of calories in the daily diet, making them the unfair scapegoat in nation’s obesity crisis.
However, the two groups aren’t likely to find common ground anytime soon. As nutritionist Marisa Moore told CNN, regardless of what role sodas and sugared-drinks play in the U.S. obesity rate, cutting back is a start.
“A lot of times, people don’t think of beverages as part of their daily total calories,” she said. “When I think about soda drinking – in general, it provides empty calories. It takes the place of more nutritious options.”