The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) calls soft drinks “liquid candy.” In a recent press release, the CSPI notes that while adults are turning to diet soda, teenagers are drinking more high-calorie ft drinks than ever. Teenage boys are drinking an average of three 12-ounce cans per day, and girls drink more than two cans.
Not surprisingly, the rates of teenage obesity are soaring. As noted by CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, “What was once a rare treat in a small serving is now served up morning, noon, and night, virtually everywhere Americans happen to be.”
The CSPI has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking the agency to require a series of rotating health notices on all non-diet soft drinks – both carbonated and non-carbonated – that contain more than 13 grams of refined sugars per 12 ounces. (Most 12-ounce sodas contain 40 grams). These messages include warnings that:
* Non-diet soda may cause weight gain, tooth decay and other health problems.
* Soft drinks may cause brittle bones (osteoporosis) if substituted for milk or calcium fortified beverages.
* Caffeine is a mildly addictive stimulant and is not appropriate for children. Caffeine is found in a number of soft drinks.
The CSPI research shows that the refined sugar consumed in sodas by America’s teens exceeds government recommendations for total daily sugar consumption from all foods. Ten percent of all American boys consume 66 ounces of soft drink per day – the equivalent of five and a half 12-ounce cans, or 800 calories. Five percent consume as much as 7 cans per day, or roughly 1,000 calories. The more soda consumed by teens, the less calcium, fiber, vegetables, fruit and vitamins are consumed.
In addition to osteoporosis and obesity, this surge in consumption of soft drinks is contributing to an increase of type-2 diabetes among America’s teens. While the same health risks exist for adults, the percentages are declining among this age group as more adults turn to diet soda. However, the CSPI notes health risks associated with these types of drinks, also.
In addition to efforts by the CSPI to persuade the FDA to place warnings on soft drinks, the organization is recommending that chain restaurant menus and menu boards require calorie labeling of beverages, and that soda sales in schools cease. The CSPI has also suggested that local governments tax soda and other junk foods and use the revenue to promote health and fitness.
Supporters of the CSPI and its efforts to educate the public about the potential health risks associated with soft drinks include the American Dental Hygienists Association, the National Center for Health Education, the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons, and the Consumer Federation of America, as well as numerous leading science and nutrition experts.
For more information about the potential health risks associated with soft drinks and the work of the CSPI, visit www.cspinet.org