Lawrence de Koning, PhD of Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues showed that people with their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in the top quartile were 20 percent more likely to suffer coronary heart disease, than those whose intake was in the bottom quartile. The researchers concluded "Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased risk of CHD and some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin. Artificially sweetened beverage intake was not associated with CHD risk or biomarkers."
You don’t need added sugars in your diet at all, but there is a recommended maximum intake. A typical
adult diet (2,000 calories per day) should include no more than 130 calories from added sugar. One
20-ounce soda has nearly twice that many calories.
One-fifth of all two-year-old children in our country drink almost a cup of soda a day. Children between six and eleven usually drink 15 ounces a day and teens often drink almost 30 ounces a day.
During the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, whether in granulated or liquid form, sucrose was the predominant sweetener in soft drinks. Prior to World War II, granulated sugar was the principal sweetener. Later, during the forties, medium invert sugar (MIS), essentially a solution in which one-half the sucrose has been inverted, came to be widely used in the soft drink industry.
Soft drinks can take the place of more nutritious beverages such as calcium-rich milk. Except for water and for carbohydrates in the form of sugars, soft drinks don't supply significant amounts of nutrients. A 12-ounce can of regular soda, for example, supplies water and about 150 calories (from almost 10 teaspoons of sugar), but little else.
Adolescents who drink upward of 26 ounces (about two cans) of sugar-sweetened soft drinks daily consume 400 more calories a day than teens who abstain from such drinks. The trend toward greater use of high-fructose corn syrup parallels unprecedented gains in body fatness in the population. Overweight children and adolescents increase their risk of becoming obese by 60 percent with each additional syrup-sweetened drink they add to the daily diet.
The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 24 grams (6 teaspoons) -- or 100 calories -- of added sugar in a day. For men, the association recommends no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) -- or 150 calories -- of added sugar each day. In reality, adults consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and teens consume even more, an average of 34 teaspoons a day.
Cranberry juice could be banned from school vending machines for its sugar content, under new guidelines from the Department of Agriculture aimed at reducing childhood obesity. The cranberry industry is rallying against the regulations, saying that overall, it’s a healthy drink. There are sugary drinks with far more offensive ingredients than cranberry juice, it’s true, but typically it’s full of added sugar that could earn it status alongside sodas and other sugary drinks.
The focus on sugary drinks comes as two out of every three Americans is overweight or obese and policymakers take aim at sugary drinks, from New York City's cup-size restriction to new efforts to impose drink taxes and cut sales in U.S. schools. Policymakers and health activists argue that consumers still have options but that government intervention is needed to help buyers make better decisions that improve public health and stem the nation's costly obesity crisis. The beverage industry has countered by stepping up its defense of consumer choice.
Research has demonstrated a significant link between sugar consumption and weight gain. Sodas and other sugary drinks do not make consumers feel full, and therefore, people do not compensate for these calories by reducing the amount of food they eat throughout the day, which leads to weight gain. As our country addresses a growing health, economic and national security crisis caused by obesity, public health officials are seeking to address the most significant source of added sugar in the American diet: sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).