soft drinks

The most common drinking problem in the country is that of alcohol but there is another drinking problem which is not getting enough attention and this is the soft drinks problem. Soft drinks are beverages sweetened and sometimes carbonated which have a lot of calories. The increase in soft drinks consumption in the country is as a result of several factors. Soft drinks are more accessible and affordable and it is now expected that it is served at both joyful and sad events with soft drinks. Because of its sweet nature, one can easily get addicted to soft drinks consumption. Obesity has become far more prevalent during the period in which soft drink consumption has increased and many scientific studies have shown a link between regular soft drinks consumption and weight gain. That weight gain, in turn, is a prime risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which, for the first time, is becoming a problem for teens as well as adults. As people get older, excess weight also contributes to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.

Soft drinks consumption in the USA has doubled since the 1980’s and it is estimated that young men (12-29yrs) consume almost 160 gallons of soft drinks per year. The huge increases in soft drink consumption have not happened by chance but rather due to intense marketing efforts by soft drink corporations. We should also be aware that because the adult market is stagnant, kids are the target. Soft drink companies spend billions on advertising. Much of these marketing efforts are aimed at children through playgrounds, toys, cartoons, movies, contests and games and use media such as the television, radio, magazines and the internet. Their efforts have paid off and last year, soft drink companies grossed over $57 billion in sales in the US alone.

As early as 1942, the dangers of increased soft drinks was trumpeted by the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Food and Nutrition which stated that-From the health point of view it is desirable to restrict the consumption of sweetened carbonated beverages which are of low nutritional value. Drinking of carbonated soft drinks especially on an empty stomach can lead to some gastrointestinal distress. This can be due to some of the chemicals such as acetic, fumaric, gluconic and phosphoric acids which are additives used in soft drinks. These chemicals can upset the fragile acid-alkaline balance of the stomach and other gastric lining, creating a continuous acid environment which can lead to some gastric disorders. Dentists are noticing a condition in teenagers that used to be found only in the elderly—a complete loss of enamel on the teeth, resulting in yellow teeth. The culprit is phosphoric acid in soft drinks, which causes tooth rot as well as digestive problems and bone loss. Normally saliva is slightly alkaline but with regular drinking of soft drinks, the phosphoric acid increases the acidity of saliva. In order to neutralize the acidity, the body pulls calcium ions from the teeth. The result is a very rapid depletion of the enamel coating on the teeth. The aim of this article is not to vilify soft drinks or accuse it of causing certain diseases but rather to show that overconsumption of it would not do our health any good.


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