West End Healthline
By Garrett Boggs, MD
The summer was hot and sometimes people reached for soda to quench their thirst. Unfortunately, this significantly worsens the health of many people in our community.
Soda has long been a part of American life. Coke has been around since 1892 and has significantly influenced our culture. It is important to realize, however, that while Coke has been around for over a hundred years, the way we consume it has changed.
The original fountain drink size from McDonalds was 7-oz. Now, a small drink is 16 ounces and a large is 30 ounces! You could fit four of the original Mcdonalds cups into a modern large, and still have room to spare.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men to have no more than 36 grams of sugar a day, and women no more than 25 grams a day. Just one “small” soft drink from McDonalds (or other comparable fast food places), is around 52 grams of sugar. That is already exceeding the recommended daily sugar limit. A large drink has around 100 grams of sugar–four times the AHA recommendation for a woman! Soda is responsible for roughly 50% of excess sugar consumption in the USA.
The sugars in soda are not good for your health. A recent comprehensive study published in the British Medical Journal showed 45 separate negative outcomes from consuming too much sugar. According to the study, more than just 25 grams of sugar a day may increase your risk of developing anything from heart attacks, strokes, type II diabetes, depression and dental disease.
Many of these risks get worse with higher sugar sweetened beverage consumption – meaning that every additional soda you drink increases your risk of disease.
Sugar is also tied to weight gain and obesity. A study in Economics & Human Biology suggests that every 1% increase in soft drink consumption predicts a 2% increase in obesity. Thus, even a small increase of soda consumption will increase your chance of becoming obese.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the excess soda we drink has significantly contributed to more than 40% of adults in the USA being obese! Decreasing soda intake will not only reduce excess sugar in your diet, but will help you become a healthier weight.
When you are thinking of improving your health, changing your diet can seem daunting. While there are many foods that are also high in sugar, perhaps the first step you can take that will significantly improve your health would be getting water instead of soda to quench your thirst on these hot days. This can help you reduce sugar intake quickly and reduce your risk for so many different diseases all across the body–from heart attacks to tooth decay.
Sometimes, choices to improve health can be complex: the decision to start a new medication, or to undergo an operation that could have potential complications. When it comes to soda the recommendation is simple–improve your health by drinking less soda.
Dr. Boggs is a family physician at Allina Health United Family Physicians, 233 Grand Ave, St. Paul, 651-241-5200.