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Soft drink consumption has become a highly visible and controversial public health and public

policy issue. Soft drinks are viewed by many as a major contributor to obesity and related health
problems and have consequently been targeted as a means to help curtail the rising prevalence of
obesity, particularly among children. Soft drinks have been banned from schools in Britain and
France, and in the United States, school systems as large as those in Los Angeles, Philadelphia,
and Miami have banned or severely limited soft drink sales. Many US states have considered
statewide bans or limits on soft drink sales in schools, with California passing such legislation in
2005. A key question is whether actions taken to decrease soft drink consumption are warranted
given the available science and whether decreasing population consumption of soft drinks would
benefit public health

Soft Drink Dangers: 8 Ways Soda Negatively Affects Your


Each sip of soda doesn't come without health risks to various parts in the body. Photo courtesy of Term Life Insurance

Soda is one of the most consumed beverages in the United States, second only to water. Here in
the States, Americans guzzle 57 gallons of soda per person every year, as if it wasnt full of sugary
calories. But whats happening inside the bodies of soda consumers with each sip?
As soon as soda's swallowed, the pancreas is notified and rapidly begins to create insulin in
response to the sugar. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to move sugar from food or drink into
the bloodstream, where cells are then able to use sugar for energy. Within just 20 minutes, blood
sugar levels spike and the liver responds to the insulin by turning sugar into fat for storage.
Within 45 minutes of gulping down a single 20-ounce glass of soda, caffeine from the drink is
fully absorbed, and as a result your pupils dilate and blood pressure rises. The body produces more
dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain just like a low-grade line of

When the hour chimes, the body begins to experience a blood sugar crash, which is around the
same time a person reaches for their second soda, or for another sweet and sugar snack to suffice.
Sodas connection to the obesity epidemic is so intertwined, Harvard researchers have calculated
each additional soda consumed increases the risk of obesity 1.6 times.

In addition to the threat of reaching obese levels, researchers also found after following 40,000
men for two decades, those who drank a sugary beverage each day had a 20 percent increased risk
of having a heart attack. The high fructose corn syrup a cheap replacement for cane sugar
has been associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which leads to diabetes and heart

Beverage companies know the haphazard sugar cycle all too well. In the United States, they spend
approximately $3.2 billion in marketing each year in an effort to tempt consumers to pick up a liter
of brown bubbly sugar with their pizza, or a case of cans for their childs next birthday party. Those
little children have an 80 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they become
regular soda drinkers. Their future will be one full of kidney problems, reproductive issues,
osteoporosis, asthma, and bad teeth with dissolved tooth enamel.

Sodas Bittersweet Side Effects

If youve been reading health magazines and websites for any length of time, youve read a litany
of reasons why soda is bad for you. Its nothing but sugar water. Its devoid of any nutritional
value. It leads to obesity and diabetes. But weve dug up nine other disturbing facts about what
soda does to your body, besides packing on the pounds, that dont get much attention in broader
discussions about soda and its impact on your health.

Weird Fat in Weird Places

In the latest bad news for the soda industry, Danish researchers discovered that drinking non-diet
soda leads to dramatic increases in fat buildup around your liver and your skeletal muscles, both
of which can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. The study revealed that people who
drank a regular soda every day for six months saw a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117
to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both triglyceride blood fats
and other organ fat. Their consumption also led to an 11 percent increase in cholesterol, compared
with the people who drank other beverages such as water or milk.

Diet-Soda Belly

Its not surprising that drinking all the sugar in sodas would cause weight gain, but what is
surprising is that even diet soda will pack on the pounds: Researchers from the University of Texas
Health Science Center monitored 475 adults for 10 years, and found that those who drank diet soda
had a 70 percent increase in waist circumference over the 10-year study, compared with those who
didnt drink any soda. Those who drank more than two diet sodas per day saw a 500 percent waist
expansion! A separate study the same researchers conducted on mice suggested that it was the
aspartame, which raised blood glucose levels that caused the weight gain; when your liver
encounters too much glucose, the excess is converted to body fat.

Caramel Cancer-Causers

In 2011, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug
Administration to ban the artificial caramel coloring used to make Coke, Pepsi, and other colas
brown. The reason: Two contaminants in the coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole,
have been found to cause cancer in animals, a threat the group says is unnecessary, considering
that the coloring is purely cosmetic. According to Californias strict Proposition 65 list of
chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day of 4-methylimidazole is
enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown colas, both diet and regular, contain 200
micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.

Accelerated Aging

Diet or regular, all colas contain phosphates, or phosphoric acid, a weak acid that gives colas their
tangy flavor and improves their shelf life. Although it exists in many whole foods, such as meat,
dairy, and nuts, too much phosphoric acid can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss, and
osteoporosis, and one study suggests it could trigger accelerated aging. The study, published in a
2010 issue of the FASEB Journal, found that the excessive phosphate levels found in sodas caused
lab rats to die a full five weeks earlier than the rats whose diets had more normal phosphate levels
a disturbing trend considering that soda manufacturers have been increasing the levels of
phosphoric acid in their products over the past few decades.

Water Pollution

The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas dont break down in our bodies, nor do wastewater-
treatment plants catch them before they enter waterways, researchers have found. In 2009, Swiss
scientists tested water samples from wastewater-treatment plants, rivers and lakes in Switzerland
and detected levels of acesulfame K, sucralose, and saccharin, all of which are, or have been, used
in diet sodas. A recent test of 19 municipal water supplies in the U.S. revealed the presence of
sucralose in every one. Its not clear yet what these low levels are doing to people, but past research
has found that sucralose in rivers and lakes interferes with some organisms feeding habits.

Mountain Dew Mind

Dentists have a name for the condition they see in kids who drink too much Mountain Dew. They
wind up with a Mountain Dew Mouth, full of cavities caused by the drinks excessive sugar
levels. Mountain Dew Mind may be the next medical condition that gets named after the stuff.
An ingredient called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, added to prevent the flavoring from
separating from the drink, is an industrial chemical used as a flame retardant in plastics. Also found
in other citrus-based soft drinks and sports drinks, the chemical has been known to cause memory
loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Researchers also suspect that, like
brominated flame retardants used in furniture foam, the chemical builds up in body fat, possibly
causing behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time.

Whacked-Out Hormones

Its not just the soda thats causing all the problems. Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with
an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the
metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility
to obesity and diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention have pegged soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and fast-food meals, as a
major source of exposure to the chemical. And while Pepsi and Coke are currently locked in a
battle to see which company can be the first to develop a 100 percent plant-based-plastic bottle
which theyre touting as BPA freeneither company is willing to switch to BPA-free aluminum
Dead Birds

Before you switch from cans to bottles, though, take a look at the photographs of Chris Jordan, an
environmentalist and photographer who visited the Midway Atoll area in 2009. Its close to the
Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean where things like soda
caps (which often arent recycled) and plastic fish netting float just beneath the surface of the
water. Birds, sea turtles, and other wildlife mistake the debris for food and eat large quantities of
the plastic, which they are unable to digest. Ultimately, the plastic causes them to starve to death.
Its estimated that thousands of animals die this way every year.

Unknown Side Effects of GMOs

Take a look at the ingredients list for any soda and chances are most of those ingredients are
derived from corn. As much as 88 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to
resist toxic pesticides or engineered to create pesticides within the plant itself. Thanks to lax
government safety regulations, and tight corporate control over who gets to test these proprietary
seeds, there are no human studies that can prove or disprove whether these crops are safe.
Independent scientists have found that, in animals, genetically modified crops, or GMOs, are
linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated aging, and even infertility. By drinking soda, youre
taking part in the biggest science experiment on the planet.