“My wife and I have both been addicted to soda for many years. On an average day, I would drink six cans of soda and my wife would drink four cans, meaning we would go through ten cans a day at our house.” Trent and his wife were addicted to soda, until one day they had enough. Not only was their addiction hurting their budget, but also their waistlines. Obesity is overwhelming the lives of one in every three Americans, an estimated 97 million individuals according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another one in three Americans are overweight.
This means that less than one in three Americans currently enjoy a healthy body mass index (BMI). A BMI 25 or above is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese.
Each year, the United States spends $190 billion dollars treating obesity-related conditions. The National Institutes of Health warn that obesity often leads to conditions including hypertension, dyslipidemia (abnormal level of blood lipids, or fats), type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, arthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory conditions, cancer, and finally premature morbidity.
Two thirds of the US population has not always had an unhealthily high BMI. America’s waistline began rising in 1960, and spiking in 1980. Below is a trend line showing the rise of obesity rates:
To worsen matters, the past decades have shown an increase in overweight children around the globe. American children, however, are in the lead for obtaining the largest waistlines. Below is a chart that shows an increasing trend of overweight children:
The epidemic of obesity is claiming not only the lives of Americans, but also their children. In order to fight the epidemic of obesity, the cause must be illuminated and then dealt with. Is it the average 2670 calorie-per-day American diet that is causing our skyrocketing obesity rates? Or is it the inability to resist the fast-food drive-thrus after a long day of work? The mass amount of processed food currently distributed in the US and the lack of portion control that exists among Americans don’t help the growing waistline of our country, but Harvard University would argue that sugary drinks are in fact a primary contributor to the obesity epidemic.
In the 1970s, sugary drinks made up 4% of the US daily caloric intake. By 2001, they made up about 9% of the average American caloric intake and today they make up even more. People who drink sugary beverages are consuming “empty calories”. These empty calories from sugar in soda do not provide a feeling of satiation, and therefore the consumer does not compensate for the calories by eating less. A 20 oz bottle of soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and over 240 calories. Trent and his wife were drinking approximately 1600 calories combined in soda each day before cutting it out of their diets. If their diet represented the average American diet of 2675 calories, soda made up approximately 30% of their diet. A study performed in 2001 found that one’s chance of obtaining obesity increase by 60% for every 12 oz can of soda consumed each day. Trent and his wife became aware of this risk, and made an effort to cut soda out of their daily diet altogether.
Trent was successful in cutting soda out of his diet and does not regret it. Courtney Dyer would agree that soda has harmful effects on the waistline. Dyer lost 107 pounds, and her first step in doing so was cutting out soda. She consumed a two-liter bottle of soda twice each day up until she was 38 years old. She’d had enough of being overweight, and took action to change her physical state. Today she maintains a healthy BMI of 22.4, significantly better than her prior obese BMI of 39.7.
The National Institutes of Health assures Americans that the health risks mentioned above are less likely to occur if they shrink their waistlines. Just because an answer is simple does not mean that it is easy. Turning down an icy Coca Cola during that 2 pm post-lunch urge to nap during work is easier said than done. Finding a healthy alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth makes saying no to the bad-for-you, yet delicious sugar significantly easier. Try a cup of tea or a bottle of the new, all-natural Bai 5 instead of sipping those high-calorie sodas…your waistline will thank you!