Taking place June 4-5, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s National Soda Summit is an annual conference where advocates, researchers, and state and local officials join together to learn the latest on taxes, warning labels, portion sizes, procurement policies and marketing reform efforts relating to sugar sweetened beverages across the country.
Some of the topics being presented at the 2014 conference are: “Why ‘Pick On’Soda? The latest science on how sugar drinks are bad for health” which will address the large and growing body of scientific evidence that demonstrates that sugar drinks are harmful to our health; “Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Sugar Drinks” at which an epidemiologist presents his ground-breaking research on the harm associated with soda consumption and other sugar drinks; and “Current Initiatives to Reduce Consumption” which is about the many strategies and policy options available to reduce the consumption of and change social norms on sugar drinks.
What is a sugar sweetened beverage? It’s any drink with sugar added. Some examples are soft drinks, fruit drinks, ades, sports drinks, teas, coffees and energy drinks. To find out if a drink contains sugar, look for any of these words on the list of ingredients: sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, honey, molasses, sucrose, or cane sugar.
There are several key steps you can take to help reduce your sugar sweetened beverage intake. The first step is to become more educated about sugar sweetened beverages.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s website, sugary drinks are responsible for more than 40 percent of all added sugars. In the 1970s, sugary drinks made up about 4 percent of U.S. daily calorie intake; by 2001, that had risen to about 9 percent.
Sugar-sweetened beverages add calories to your diet without providing nutrients or making you full. Studies have shown that teenagers who drink sugary beverages get an average of 360 calories from them each day, a kid’s risk of becoming obese increases by 60 percent for every additional sugary drink consumed per day, women who drink one sugar-sweetened beverage each day have almost twice the risk of diabetes, and a single 20-ounce soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar.
The goals of many educational campaigns is to reduce sugar sweetened beverages around the country are similar, making this a nationwide effort. The goals include promoting healthy eating, reducing sugar-loaded drink consumption, increasing community support for healthier food environments, and establishing a strategic and fully integrated multimedia approach for community education.
The second action is to watch your portion sizes and do your best to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink. Portion sizes have become a major issue. Many studies have shown that when given larger portions, people simply drink more.
When sodas first came out, a bottle was just 6.5 ounces. The 12-ounce can was introduced in the 1960s, the 20-ounce bottle was introduced in the early 1990s, and now it is common to see a person drinking out of a one-liter bottle (34 ounce) or a 32- or 44-ounce fountain drink. Try to challenge yourself to a Soda-Free Summer. See how much better you feel and if managing your weight has become any easier.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest the following smart tips so you can make healthier choices:
• Choose water, diet or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
• Don’t stock the fridge with sugar-sweetened beverages; keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
• Serve water with meals.
• Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon or drink sparkling water.
• Add a splash of 100 percent juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
• When you do opt for a sugar-sweetened beverage, go for the small size.
• Be a role model for your friends and family by choosing healthy, low-calorie beverages.
Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.