Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press reports that new studies by two groups of researchers claim that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks actually causes obesity. While it is widely agreed that soda contributes to weight gain, labeling soda as a standalone cause is a new idea that's ruffling some feathers. Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Thun says:

"Caloric imbalance causes obesity, so in the sense that any one part of the diet is contributing excess calories, it's contributing causally to the obesity", Thun said. "It doesn't mean that something is the only cause. It means that in the absence of that factor there would be less of that condition."

Does it merit a warning on soda cans?

"I think it would be a good candidate for a warning", Thun said. "It's something that should be seriously considered."

In Dr. Fuhrman?s book Disease Proof Your Child he discusses soft drinks and rising obesity rates:

Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption in the United States, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.1 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.

Annual Soft Drink Production in USA

Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest ( www.cspinet.org )

Soft drinks and processed foods are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary ?liquid candy? with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

1. French SA, Lin BH, Guthrie JF. National trends in soft drink consumption among children and adolescents age 6 to 17 years: prevalence, amounts, and sources, 1977/1978 to 1994/1998. J Am Diet Assoc 2003;103(10):1326-1331.

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