Sodas and sugary drinks, an obesity culprit

How much blame goes to the beverage industry?  NPR’s All Things Considered is looking into this topic (yesterday and today).

Many states are planning to tax sodas.  Washington has jumped on this one, too. The taxes are mostly to help fill budget gaps, and way too small to make a meaningful health difference.

The man who’s studied this the most, and made it into a crusade, says the tax needs to be much higher than any state is considering: a penny-an-ounce.  That would add 12 cents to a can of soda, and more than 60 cents to those 2-liter bottles.  Kelly Brownell, of Yale University’s Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity, argues this would compel Americans to make healthier choices.

Yesterday’s NPR reports included a good overview from Jeff Brady, plus a pair of interviews by Michelle Norris.  Several listeners told me they felt Norris was too easy on the beverage industry spokesperson.

Studies have shown a pretty strong correlation between soft-drink consumption and weight gain.  And, the beverage industry response that Americans just need more exercise?  Exercise is good, but it’s not a major factor in the obesity crisis and can’t compensate for the big jump in calorie consumption.  The scientific evidence is pretty strong on that.  But, nutritionists will also tell you it’s too simplistic to think that cutting down on sodas by itself will solve the weight-gain problem.  It’s an important step, but there are additional dietary problems.

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About Admin

I was the Science & Health Reporter for 12 years, and the Environment Reporter for 5 years, at NPR member station KPLU, in Seattle, WA (now re-born as knkx). Today, I've left journalism but keep this blog as a place for writing about some of the topics that I tracked over the years.

7 thoughts on “Sodas and sugary drinks, an obesity culprit

  1. Adam – From the research I’ve seen, the problem comes mostly from the “excess of calories” — which includes sodas and snacks (just not those exclusively).

  2. My girlfriend would agree with you. She had weight problems as a child, and in high-school, made the decision to change. After some false starts she found a method that worked for her…and she lost over 60 pounds in 3 months. And has kept if off for over a decade.

    Her secret? She eats exactly 1,450 calories every day. If it comes in the form of pizza and gummy bears, that’s what she eats- and then she doesn’t have even a tic-tac until the next day.
    (she also exercises, but considers that secondary)

    Not exactly healthy, but it works for her!

  3. Just the beverage industry? No, just the foods we eat? No. The human being is a complex animal that has adapted over time to conserve energy as part of a survival mechanism. Americans are blessed and cursed with abundance – We are not required to work vigorously for our survival, so to conserve energy we don’t. It’s an evolutionary advantage that now is working against us. Sure there are the few that strive for no apparent reason – they run and bike and hike to just do that, not survive. They fight against the internal drive to conserve and store energy, to use only what is necessary to survive.

    The human animal is behaving exactly as nature has designed it. The human is however, imbued with “choice” and “intellect” if they use it. We can still combat the “dangerous” environment we’ve created for ourselves. of course this is challenging our hard wired survival imperative, but as humans we should be able to get away with it if we’re lucky.

  4. No doubt, the two main culprits to busting your diet plan. Rightly put here that soft drinks add to your unwanted fat. Better keep away or else you will surely regret it.

  5. I have been reading through your material and I have found it very interesting. I am new to the online health community and I am trying to build my content. If you have any ideas from your experiences it would be greatly appreciated. Your comments or advice are appreciated. Thanks

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