Soda Fueling Obesity Epidemic

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For the first time Americans are getting more of their calories from soft drinks than from milk, reports The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

Researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed national beverage consumption patterns for mor ethan 73,000 Americans, age 2 and older.

The study discovered that between 1977 and 2001:

  • Overall calories from sweetened beverages were up 135 percent.
  • Overall, Americans got 38 percent fewer daily calories from milk.
  • Americans now get an average of 144 calories a day from sugar-sweetened soft drinks and only 99 calories from milk.
  • For young people aged 2-18, milk fell from 13.2 percent of total calories to 8.3 percent, and soda consumption doubled.
  • Older Americans also drank more sodas. Those aged 40-59 increased soft drink Intake from 2percent to 5 percent. Among people 60 or older, consumption rose from nearly 1 percent to 3 percent.

    This is really a comprehensive analysis that left researchers concluding that the obesity epidemic could be curtailed if Americans reduced their intake of sweetened soft drinks and fruit drinks.

    This report includes both fruit drinks and soft drinks with added sugar, like high fructose corn syrup.

    Part of the problem is that if we decrease our milk intake, our bone growth suffers. Most dairy supplies 75percent of calcium in our diet and we need that to build strong bones. Also, most teens are not getting enough milk.

    You can't just blame one source, but most researchers believe calories from sweetened drinks play heavily in the obesity epidemic.

    The researchers point out that "extensive research on all age groups has shown that consuming these soft drinks and fruit drinks increases weight gain in children and adults," but "little research has focused on the beneficial impacts of reduced soft drink and fruit drink intake."

    Nutrition guidelines recommend that children ages 4-8 get 800 milligrams of calcium per day, or about 2 servings of milk group foods daily. Teens and young adults, ages 9-18, need 1,300 mg of calcium per day, or about 3 servings of milk group foods daily. One 8-ounce glass of milk has about 300 mg of calcium.

    Other sources of calcium are found in dark green, leafy vegetables and foods with added calcium. If parents are concerned that their child is not getting enough calcium, they should try to add more green leafy veggies and juices and cereals fortified with calcium. There are other natural sources of calcium like white beans and broccoli. Even an orange has calcium. Many vitamins include calcium. You should also talk to your doctor.