Candy In A Can

It is lunchtime in Los Angeles -- and what are American teenagers drinking?

They are drinking soda in such astounding quantities that, according to one report, it is a threat to public health.

Dr. Michael Jacobson, executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says, "Soda pop is the quintessential junk food. It's candy in a can."

It used to be that milk was the beverage of choice. But, based on government surveys, the Center for Science in the Public Interest finds that teens now drink twice as much soda as milk.

The average 13- to 18-year-old female drinks more than two cans a day. The average 13- to 18-year-old male drinks more than three cans a day, and 10 percent of those males drink more than seven cans a day.

Though no disease can be linked directly to drinking soda, it has edged out other nutrients in the American diet, according to the report. Also, it is contributing to a shortage of calcium, dependence on sugar and caffeine and tooth decay, and obesity.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest blames our soda saturation on soft drink companies which have spent $6 billion in the last decade bombarding teenagers with ads, and putting vending machines in schools.

In response, the National Soft Drink Association has issued a statement saying, "CSPI's strained efforts to blame soft drink companies for various health issues simply are not supported by the facts...and are an insult to consumer intelligence."

It is after all, the Pepsi Generation, a group old enough to decide for themselves what to drink.

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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