The Pushback Against Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
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    I imagine that your thoughts and feelings about New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his efforts to limit the size of sugary drinks in his city depends on the direction your personal political winds blow. As it stands now, the court struck down his effort and stated that the restrictions on soft drinks were arbitrary and that city health officials had overextended the boundaries of their authority. The case is currently being appealed.

    Whether you are pro-Bloomberg or anti-Bloomberg, you have to admit that he has shone a pretty bright light on the subject of sugared soft drinks. There are a number of health concerns attached to such beverages as well as a consensus for action, although Bloomberg may have jumped a rail or two. 

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    While Bloomberg’s effort is—at least for the moment—a high-profile defeat, the fact is the pushback against sugared drinks is enjoying a good measure of success.

    Soda Consumption on the Decline

    As reported by CNBC in march of 2013, soda consumption in the United States had dropped for the eighth consecutive year and is at the lowest level since 1996. Per person consumption has declined to the lowest level since 1987.

    Soda companies are in a scramble to boost sales. PepsiCo changed its bottle design for the first time in 17 years, although the contents of the bottle remain unchanged.

    Celebrity endorsement is yet another approach to elevate sales, as can be witnessed by the $50 million deal that Beyonce cut with Pepsi.

    Most encouraging is the decline in sugary drinks among children. Kids in the United States consumed on average 68 fewer calories per day from sugared drinks in 2010 than they did in 2000, and both children and adults are drinking less sugared beverages at meals or during snack time. 

    Teenagers had the largest decline in consumption among any age group with a reduction of 84 calories per day.

    The researchers did not explore how any specific policies might have contributed to the decline and, therefore, offer no explanation for the findings. In addition, reduced sugar consumption has not been met with a corresponding reduction in obesity, suggesting that Americans are either getting more calories from other sources or exercising less, or both.

    The Parallel of Decreased Sugar Consumption and Improved Health 

    Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that a decrease in the consumption of sugared drinks correlates with improvements in cholesterol, as well as biomarkers for chronic diseases.

    While the results of the survey do not show a decrease in commonality of chronic diseases, it does indicate effects on risk factors for chronic diseases. The study ran from 1999 to 2010, and over that period of decreased consumption of sugared beverages, both LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein also decreased. The number of patients informed by doctors that they had high blood pressure also decreased significantly.

    At present, there is a strong correlation between decreased consumption of sugared drinks and an improvement in biomarkers for chronic diseases, although causation is not yet established.


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Published On: December 29, 2013