You probably already know that soda is bad for you, but the health risks are more severe than you may have realized. In fact, recent studies have shown that soda can be as detrimental to your health as smoking. And diet soda can be just as bad for you as the full-flavored sweet stuff.
Hopefully, the staggering facts and helpful tips below will help you kick your soft drink addiction once and for all.
The average American consumes 18 ounces of soda daily. That amounts to an additional 225 empty calories a day, or 7,000 over a year. In terms of weight, that caloric intake could mean you’re packing on an additional 24 pounds a year. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have also drawn a parallel between soft drink intake and childhood obesity. They found that the odds of children and teens becoming obese increased by 60% for each can of sugary drink consumed per day.
Furthermore, the University of Texas Health Science Center conducted a study that showed switching to diet soda isn’t much better for you. Researchers monitored 475 adults over the course of 10 years; the participants who drank diet soda saw a 70% increase in waist size compared to those who didn’t partake of any soft drinks.
Obesity in and of itself puts you at risk for diabetes, but the sugary punch soda packs exacerbates the issue. Some scientists believe that soda and soft drinks are a big factor in the increase of Americans living with type 2 diabetes; that number has risen from 6.6 million cases in 1980 to 20.8 million in 2011.
In 2014, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School aggregated and analyzed long-term data following approximately 51,000 women over the span of eight years. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes. However, by the end of the study, 741 women were diagnosed with the disease. Results from this study indicate that women who consume one or more soft drinks per day are 83% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Weakened Bones and Tooth Decay
There’s an automotive home remedy that suggests pouring Coca-Cola on a corroded battery terminal, because the acid found in the drink will eat away build-up. Now imagine what that could do to your teeth and bones.
Soda is proven to dissolve tooth enamel. Regular soft drinks have a PH value of 2.5; diet sodas come in at about 3.2. Compare that to the pH value of water (7) and the pH value of battery acid (1), and it’s easy to see why sipping soda all day isn’t so great for your pearly whites.
While some scientists think the same acidity that eats up your teeth can weaken your bones, others suggest that replacing milk with soda is the culprit. In the 1950s, the average American child drank three cups of milk for every one cup of sugary beverages. Today, that ratio is reversed.
Regardless of the cause, adolescent girls are the group most heavily affected. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, girls who drink soft drinks are three times as likely to break the bones in their limbs compared to those who didn’t consume sugary drinks. Girls who drank colas (rather than clear, fruity soft drinks) were even more likely to break a bone.
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) might not sound too terrifying, but its initial purpose was to make plastics flame-retardant. Now, it’s used in soft drinks to help keep the flavoring from separating out. Potential side effects of excessive BVO consumption include headache, fatigue and memory loss. BVO has been banned in Europe and Japan, and as of May 2014, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they’d be removing BVO from their drinks, but it can still be found in Dr. Pepper/7-Up products, including Squirt, Sun Drop and the Peach and Fruit Punch Sunkist flavors.
Tips For Quitting Soft Drinks
If you’re ready to kick your soda habit for good, it’s best to wean yourself off gradually. You can try switching to caffeine-free soda during the weaning process, and you may find you don’t crave the beverage as much as usual.
If you can’t give up that caffeine, incorporate unsweetened tea into your routine. If it’s the carbonation you crave, try flavored seltzer waters. And for an extra burst of flavor in your water, add citrus juice or cucumbers.
Making healthier choices is a lifelong process, but cutting out soda is a great place to start.