Sugary drinks are becoming the next health threat in our country

Jul 11, 2012

As I stood in the drink aisle of the grocery store several Sundays ago, I began to marvel at mind-boggling number of choices we have for quenching our thirst.

At our family, we pretty much stick to water — the stuff that comes out of the spigot — and occasionally, I’ll brew of pot of iced tea. A year or two ago, the tomato juice, which I mostly use in cooking, was switched to the drink section, so that’s why I was even in that aisle to begin with. Usually it is one I skip. (Does anybody really drink tomato juice straight on a regular basis? I liked it better with the with the other tomato products.)

Anyway, I started chatting with another gentleman who seemed just as confused as I did wandering down an entire aisle to find a specific item. There are more than a dozen brands of sports drinks, and then each brand offers a variety of flavors. That’s for the bottled choices. Many offer a powdered form, either by the can or by the pouch.

There are choices that are strictly soft drinks, which come in every size from giant to mini bottles, as well as cans.

There’s the straight juices, the juice mixtures, a variety of the designer waters, teas and vitamin-enriched products that come in multiple flavors, either liquid or powdered.

I have no idea what most of the thousands of offerings taste like, but this I know: None can possibly be as healthy as just plain old water and they certainly are more expensive.

The latest scientific studies are pointing to excessive use of sugar as being a looming health risk to our society. It is almost like sugar is the modern-age equivalent of tobacco as far as harmful effects that can result from overuse.

A campaign is already proposed to require health noticed on the bottles or cans warning consumers about the risks of weight gain, obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest calls sugary drinks "liquid candy, and a campaign started last fall, Life’s Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks, strives to decrease average consumption of sugary drinks to roughly three cans per person per week by 2020.

In June, there was a sugary drink summit in Washington, D.C. where researchers, government officials, health professionals, consumer groups, business leaders and faith-based organizations, strategized to improve health by reversing the dramatic

increase in sugary-drink consumption over the past decades

Consider these facts.

• Many fruit drinks and energy drinks have as much added sugar and calories as full-calorie soda.

Sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet and account for half of all added sugars consumed.
• The sugar and acid in soft drinks promote tooth decay and enamel erosion, which are particularly prevalent among low-income and minority youth.
At the June summit, efforts to apply pressure to alter marketing campaigns and beef up educational measures were also front and center. One discussion considered ways to reintroduce regular-sized portions of sugary drinks as opposed to the super-sized versions widely available.
Several cities are exploring this approach, and getting a lot of push-back for it. To me, this doesn't make as much sense as a "pay-it-forward" approach.
Since science has indisputable evidence linking sugar to health problems, and since half the added sugar consumed in America comes from sugary drinks, it makes perfect sense for a "health tax" to be assessed at the point of purchase.
If the higher price doesn't change buying habits, so be it. At least the funds earmarked to treat the damaging effects of sugar will partially defray the costs to society as a whole for treating diseases stemming from the newest health villain on the block.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.