Why is soda so unhealthy?

With a whopping 33 grams of sugar per serving, soda is easily the most common source of processed sugar in American diets. On any given day, half the people in the United States consume at least one 12oz serving (one can) of soda. One in four Americans consume more than 200 calories a day from drinking soda, with 5% consuming more than 500 calories from soda each day (1). Soda has been proven to cause diabetes, heart disease, cancer, gout, tooth decay, liver damage, and all other problems associated with obesity. So why is soda so unhealthy?

Regardless of caloric intake, soda causes fat accumulation

The main ingredient in soda is high fructose corn syrup, a highly processed and concentrated form of sugar. When our body digests large amounts of sugar at once it forces our liver to step in to help metabolize the fructose. This induces uric acid production and stimulates fat accumulation (2). What this means is that even healthy individuals can experience weight gain regardless of how many calories they consume.

Regular soda consumption has also been found to cause an increase in abdominal fat, particularly visceral adipose tissue (VAT). This kind of tissue has been independently linked to the pathogenesis of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (3). Not only is soda causes these deadly diseases, it is causing people to gain abnormal weight in their midsection. This is part of the reason people have a hard time losing that “stubborn belly fat” even when dieting or exercising.

Soda causes accelerated cell aging, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease

Scientists studying healthy cellular aging aimed to test the affects of soda on cell aging. The high levels of sugar in soda were found to influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging (4). Soda consumption causes cells to age faster, substantially increasing your risks of getting cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes. Cardiometabolic syndrome is what also can lead to strokes and severe heart disease at earlier ages (5).

It’s also no surprise that science supports all the negative claims on soda. For example, they found that “people who consume sugary drinks regularly—one to two cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks” (6). Or that in a study of 80,000 women that consuming just once can of soda a day show a 75% increase in chance of getting gout (6). Or another study of 40,000 men finding a 20% higher risk of a heart attack from consuming just one can of soda a day.

Estimated that 184,000 people die each year due to Sugar Sweetened Beverages

In 2010, researchers were able to compile large amounts of data, reports, and cohort pooling studies to estimate the amount of deaths attributed to consuming sugar-sweetened beverages. They estimated that  close to 184,000 people died in 2010 due to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (7). Of these deaths 72% were caused from people getting diabetes, 25% heart disease, and 5% cancer. These diseases were all results of excessive sugar consumption and based on cause-specific population-attributable fractions for SSB consumption, which were multiplied by cause-specific mortality/morbidity to compute estimates of SSB-attributable death/disability (7).

Sources

1) http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26081486

3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24944282

4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25322305

5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12948432

6) http://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2012/10/sugary-drinks-and-obesity-fact-sheet-june-2012-the-nutrition-source.pdf

7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26124185

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