According to new research by The Obesity Society, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) contribute to the obesity epidemic in the United States, especially among children.
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past three decades. In 2012, nearly 18 percent of children aged 6-11 were obese, compared to 7 percent in 1980. Over that same period, the percentage of adolescents ages 12-19 who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent. Children who are obese have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and adult obesity.
More than one-third (34.9 percent) of American adults are obese, with non-Hispanic blacks having the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (47. percent), followed by by Hispanics (42.5 percent), non-Hispanic whites (32.6 percent), and non-Hispanic Asians (10.8 percent).
While SSBs aren’t the only cause of obesity in the United States, they do comprise 6 to 7 percent of Americans’ overall calorie intake.
“Despite the challenges researchers have faced with isolating the impact of specific foods or beverages on body weight, the studies conducted on SSBs thus far have generated important and meaningful data leading to our conclusion,” said TOS spokesperson Diana Thomas, PhD, Professor at Montclair State University and Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research.
So what are some healthy alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages? There are a few, but water tops the list. At least half of your daily fluid intake, or about 10 cups for adults, should come from water. Other alternatives include unflavored low-fat or non-fat milk, and 100% fruit juices.
Some cities, states, and countries have proposed or already imposed a “soda tax” to curb obesity. In October 2013, Mexico passed legislation that created an 8 percent tax on junk food containing more than 275 calories per 100 grams, and a peso-per-liter tax — about 10 percent — on SSBs. Other places that have implemented or proposed soda taxes include Denmark, Norway, New York, and San Francisco.